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Shares of Qantas slumped to a record low – down almost 19 percent – after it warned of its first annual net loss since it was privatised in 1995.

The Australian airline blaming deep losses at its international operations, weak travel demand and soaring fuel costs.

The forecast comes two weeks after Qantas unveiled plans to separate its loss-making international business from its profitable domestic division.

For the past 12 months, the carrier has been wrangling with unions that led to the grounding of its fleet for nearly two days last year.

Chief Executive Alan Joyce, whose turnaround plan and handling of the unions has won shareholder approval, said the past few weeks had been particularly harsh, forcing the airline to issue this warning to investors.

The airline’s profit warning underlines the global aviation sector’s struggles as high oil prices and sagging demand due to the European economic crisis take their toll.

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