Tim Clark, President Emirates airline, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group and Dhahi Khalfan Lt General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy chairman of police and Public security in Dubai during the Conference of ‘AVSEC Global 2017 at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Emirates airline said its financial performance in the first six months of this year was “a lot better” than that at the same time in 2016 when it recorded a 75 per cent drop in net profit.

Speaking to reporters at a conference in Dubai on Sunday, Tim Clark, president of Emirates airline, did not elaborate on financial performance, but said the carrier has had a “very robust summer” in terms of its flights to the United States, for example.

Emirates is expected to announce its results for the first half of this year next month. Last year, when the carrier reported Dh786 million in profits for the first half of the year, Emirates attributed the decline to a stronger US dollar and a challenging operating environment.

This year, the Dubai-based carrier has to contend with continued challenges in the environment including pressure on airline yields and lower consumer spending.

Demand on US routes

Another challenge is lower demand to destinations such as the US as a result of the electronics ban implemented (and then lifted) earlier this year, and policies by the US government to restrict the entry of Muslims.

Clark told reporters on Sunday that Emirates airline lost about 15-18 per cent of its loads to the US as a result of the electronics ban, which he described as having been “hugely disruptive”.

“We went down about 15-18 per cent, and as you know, we had reduced capacity and frequency into the United States as a result of all of this. That didn’t last that long. Within a few months of getting it sorted and then eventually the ban being lifted, we were able to get back to where we were, and it’s been a very robust summer for us in the United States,” Clark said. “Things bounced back,” he added.

In April 2017, around a month after the implementation of the electronics ban, Emirates announced it will cut flights on five US routes on the back of weaker demand for US travel from the Middle East.

Though the ban later got lifted in early July, Emirates has not restored all its routes yet.

“We’re still down on frequency on Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles … but eventually, we’re hoping to put it all back again; that’s the plan. I’m hoping in the summer of next year that we’ll be able to get that all back to normal again. We’ll see,” Clark said.

His comments echo those he made just last month in London where he said he hoped Emirates will restore capacity to the US in the next six to nine months.

In his speech at the Aviation Security conference on Sunday, Clark said Emirates “could have lost up to 50 per cent of our loads to the US, if not for the swift and collaborative response from all the aviation stakeholders here in Dubai”.