Qantas has reported a modest rise in monthly passenger numbers amid hopes that its shareholders could be in line for a $2 billion windfall.
The airline lifted passenger numbers by just under one per cent in August, with falls in the domestic market offsetting growth for its international services.
Qantas announced its monthly traffic figures amid speculation that it could return more than $2 billion to shareholders and produce a record profit this financial year.
The airline said in August, when it announced its return to profit, that shareholders would receive a $505 million windfall through a 23 cent per share cash distribution.
But Deutsche Bank research analyst Cameron McDonald estimates that the airline has about $2.4 billion in surplus cash that it could return to shareholders.
“We expect that Qantas will likely announce capital management equating to 50c/share at 1H16 and up to 70c/at the FY16 results,” he wrote in a note to clients.
The airline enjoyed a $3.3 billion turnaround in 2014/15, bouncing back from a record $2.8 billion net loss to produce a net profit of $557 million.
Its underlying pre-tax profit for the year was $975 million, its best result since the global financial crisis.
Meanwhile, in its latest traffic results, Qantas said total domestic passenger numbers fell two per cent in August while international travellers rose 9.7 per cent.
Jetstar lifted domestic passengers 3.6 per cent but its international numbers were down 3.9 per cent.
Overall for the year so far, the airline’s passenger numbers are up by 1.5 per cent from the previous year thanks to the recovery by its international division.
Qantas shares closed one cent higher at $3.72.