Aircraft operated by Emirates, at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.
Christopher Pike | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dubai-based EmiratesAirline narrowed its losses to $ 1.1 billion a year through March, and even rising aircraft fuel costs threatened the recovery in travel demand.
The world’s largest revenue from long-haul carriers rose 91% to $ 16.1 billion as travel jams eased and the airline increased capacity. Emirates posted $ 5.5 billion in losses last year.
“2021-2022 was largely about recovery, after the most difficult year in the history of our Group,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group, said in a statement on Friday.
“We expect the Group to return to profitability in 2022-23, and we are working hard to achieve our objectives, keeping a close eye on adverse winds such as high fuel prices, inflation, new COVID-19 variants and political and economic uncertainty. “
The airline had resumed flights to 140 destinations by the end of March, but the rise in fuel prices so far by more than 50% this year continues to challenge the pandemic-hit aviation sector. The Emirates said its fuel bill doubled to $ 3.8 billion as the price of oil and jet fuel rose in recent quarters.
“It is very difficult to determine where that price will stop, or how far it can fall,” Sheikh Ahmed told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday when asked about the fuel price. “This is really affecting the airline business in a big way,” he added, noting that geopolitics and the Russian occupation of Ukraine were having a significant impact on fuel prices.
Emirates said fuel accounted for 23% of operating costs during the year, compared to only 14% in 2020-2021.
“The relatively recent reopening of important markets in Asia is key to the Emirates recovery,” Alex Macheras, an independent aviation analyst, told CNBC. “Challenges will remain with China’s ongoing blockages, fleet concerns amid Boeing 777 delays and a globally costly living crisis that will be more apparent. [in terms of impacts] for airlines this winter.
The road to IPO
The Emirates Group, which includes Emirates and its airline business Dnata, recorded an annual loss of $ 1 billion, despite Dnata returning to profitability. The group’s revenue grew 86% to $ 18.1 billion and the group closed the year with a 30% improvement in its cash balance to $ 7 billion.
Sheikh Ahmed told CNBC that the group now plans to pay the Dubai government some of the nearly $ 4 billion in emergency aid it pumped into the airline at the height of the pandemic.
“It was money well spent,” he said. “If things continue as they are now, we can pay for what the government has injected into the company.”
It comes amid renewed speculation that the Emirates or its subsidiaries could be tapped by the Dubai government to make it public, joining a the list of businesses already destined for the initial public offering as part of a push between governments in the region to make their state-owned enterprises public.
“I am sure that maybe somewhere in the future Emirates will be in the market and people will be able to buy shares,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “I do not call that point,” he added, without offering any further plans.
Dubai Airports, the Emirates main base, attracted 13.6 million passengers in the first quarter, according to new data released on Thursday. Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told CNBC that passenger air traffic in Dubai could reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024, a year earlier than previously expected, providing a back wind for the Emirates through recovery.
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