Emirates narrows annual loss as travel demand recovers

The airline carried 19.6 million passengers, a threefold increase from the previous year

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Emirates, the world's largest long-haul airline, narrowed its annual loss amid a rebound in passenger travel demand and strong performance from its freight business.

The airline reported a loss of Dh3.9 billion ($1.1bn) for the financial year ending March 31, compared with a loss of Dh20.3bn in the previous year, it said on Friday.

The airline's revenue rose 91 per cent a year to Dh59.2bn as it carried 19.6 million passengers, a threefold increase from the previous year.

“This year, we focused on restoring our operations quickly and safely wherever pandemic-related restrictions eased across our markets,” said chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed.

Business recovery picked up pace, particularly in the second half of the year. Robust customer demand drove a huge improvement in our financial performance, compared to our unprecedented losses of last year, and we built up our strong cash balance.”

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive of the Emirates Group. Pawan Singh / The National

Emirates registered a seat capacity increase of 150 per cent while its passenger seat factor went up to 58 per cent, from 44.3 per cent last year.

Total passenger and cargo capacity increased 47 per cent between 2021 and 2022, as the airline continued to reinstate passenger services across its network due to the easing of pandemic-related flight and travel restrictions.

Emirates recently said it would return to profit in 2023 and that it is profitable so far in its current financial year. It also said it would reach 100 per cent of its capacity by the end of the year, up from 75 per cent to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels at which it is currently operating.

On Friday, Emirates said its cash assets increased 38 per cent at the end of its fiscal year to Dh20.9bn, from the end of March 2021.

The carrier intends to begin repaying the Dh15 billion in support that it received from the Dubai government to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The repayments, which Emirates aims to start this financial year, will be in the form of dividends to the government during the current financial year.

“Across Emirates and dnata, we responded to dynamic market conditions with agility, and introduced innovative products and services to meet our customers’ needs and provide them with the best possible experience,” Sheikh Ahmed said.

Emirates Group narrowed its annual loss to Dh3.8bn, with revenue increasing 86 per cent to Dh66.2bn on the back of strong customer demand as worldwide travel restrictions are eased.

The group ended its fiscal year with a “strong cash balance” of Dh25.8bn.

“For the Emirates Group, 2021-2022 was largely about recovery, after the toughest year in our group’s history,” Sheikh Ahmed said.

“It's not just about restoring our capacity, but also augmenting our future capabilities as we rebuild. Our aim is to build back better and stronger.

“We expect the group to return to profitability in 2022-2023, and are working hard to hit our targets, while keeping a close watch on headwinds such as high fuel prices, inflation, new Covid-19 variants and political and economic uncertainty.”

Dnata swung to a Dh110 million profit, from a Dh1.8bn loss in the previous year. Its revenue increased 54 per cent to Dh8.6bn, as all business divisions rebounded from the pandemic in the UAE and worldwide.

Dnata’s international business accounts for 62 per cent of its revenue.

Updated: May 19, 2022, 3:56 AM