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SYDNEY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd, Australia's biggest airline, on Thursday posted a 7.5 percent fall in first-half underlying profit as international competition intensified and domestic market conditions remained weak.
Underlying pre-tax profit, its most closely watched measure, totalled A$852 million ($656 million) for the six months to Dec. 31, down from A$921 million a year earlier but ahead of the guidance range of A$800 million to A$850 million given in October.
The flagship Australian carrier announced an interim 50 percent franked dividend of A$0.07 a share, having eschewed a dividend in favour of a A$500 million share buyback a year ago when it lacked enough tax effective franking credits. ($1 = 1.2980 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Toby Chopra)