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Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.

UPDATE 9.20am: Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford has tried to reassure the airline's shareholders about their lack of dividends and languishing shares.

He told the Qantas annual general meeting that he recognised shareholders had endured many years without a dividend, but said the board was committed to resuming payments as soon as possible.

Qantas last paid a dividend in the first half of 2008/09, when it gave shareholders six cents per share, fully franked.

Mr Clifford said dividends were suspended during the global financial crisis and as the airline preserved capital for buying new aircraft.

Qantas has bought about 120 new aircraft in the past five years, including its double-decker Airbus A380s.

"We recognise this has been a difficult period for shareholders,” Mr Clifford told the meeting in response to a shareholder question submitted prior to the gathering.

"However, the significant steps taken over the past 12 months have been consistent with the group's goal of building long-term shareholder value.

"We are serious about repaying dividends.”

This would depend of future earnings performance, balancing future capital requirements and funding performance, the availability of franking credits and overall market conditions, Mr Clifford said.

Qantas suffered a $245 million loss for 2011/2012, a sharp downturn from net profit of $250 million the prior year, due to high fuel prices and a struggling international division.

It was also affected by one-off costs such as the grounding of the fleet as part of Qantas's dispute with unions, which cost $194 million.

On the issue of Qantas's share price, which has fallen about 11 per cent so far in calendar 2012, Mr Clifford said it reflected high fuel prices, challenging operating conditions and continued global economic uncertainty.

"Management and the board remain focused on generating long-term shareholder value and are working hard to turn around underperforming parts of the business,” he said.

"The fundamentals of the business remain strong."

Qantas shares, which hit a record low of 97 cents in June, were flat at $1.29 at 9.20am.

Earlier, chief executive Alan Joyce said Qantas had made good progress with its five-year transformation program, but there was still a long way to go.

He confirmed that Qantas expected to spend at most $1.9 billion in capital in the 2013/14 financial year, in line with similar spending planned for the 2012/13 year.

Friday's meeting marks one year since Mr Joyce's controversial decision to ground the Qantas fleet, stranding tens of thousands of passengers in Australia and around the world.

He again defended the move, and apologised for the disruption caused for customers.