Dubai: Dnata, a subsidiary of Emirates Group that provides air services, on Wednesday reported its most profitable year in 59 years of operation, with over Dh1.3 billion in profit for 2017.

The company’s revenues rose 7 per cent year-on-year to Dh13.1 billion, as it benefited from acquisitions it made and performance in its international business. Dnata’s international business now accounts for 68 per cent of its revenue.

In 2017, Dnata invested Dh600 million in new facilities and equipment, acquisitions, new technologies, and employees. Its operating costs increased accordingly by 8 per cent to Dh11.9 billion, partly due to integrating newly-acquired companies across its international airport operations.

Dnata’s cash balance reached Dh4.9 billion in 2017, with the business delivering Dh1.9 billion in cash-flow from operating activities.

Revenue from Dnata’s UAE airport operations increased by 4 per cent to Dh3.2 billion. This was despite a 2 per cent decline in the number of aircraft movements handled by the company in the UAE.

In its statement on financial results, the company said the decline was impacted “by the geopolitical situation in the region.”

Its cargo handling operations inched up 2 per cent, supported by growth in the air cargo market.

Operationally, Dnata entered the US cargo market in May when it acquired AirLogistix USA. The investment includes cargo handling facilities in Houston and Dallas.

Elsewhere in the US, it received a licence to provide ground-handling services at John F. Kennedy Airport.

Under Dnata’s units, its catering business accounted for Dh2.1 billion of its total revenue, up 7 per cent year-on-year.

The division in 2017 opened a catering hub at Melbourne airport, and a second catering facility in Ireland. It also entered the Canadian market when it was awarded a licence to provide flight catering services to airlines departing Vancouver International Airport, and has already started plans to build a facility there.

In the North American market, Dnata’s catering business also acquired a New York-based caterer in March. Elsewhere, it announced the acquisition of Qantas’ catering business, subject to the approval of Australian authorities.

Meanwhile, Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates Group, reported revenue of Dh12.4 billion, up 17 per cent over 2016 as tonnage carried inched up by 2 per cent to reach 2.6 million tonnes.

Emirates SkyCargo contributed 14 per cent of the airline’s total transport revenue.