Stock Emirates airlines aircraft
Emirates makes a strong comeback. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Emirates has seen immediate benefits from the fast rollout of airline services, with revenues up a healthy 81 per cent to Dh24.7 billion, while dropping losses to Dh5.7 billion from last year’s Dh14.1 billion.

Between April to end September, which is the Group’s half-year measure, Emirates had 6.1 million passengers – that’s up 319 per cent from the same period last year. The volume of cargo lifted came to 1.1 million tonnes, which was an increase of 39 per cent and brings the business back to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels on volume handled. “This shows Emirates Skycargo's outstanding agility and ability to meet the requirements of its customers whether it be for the transport of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, essential goods like food and perishables, or champion horses and high-performance cars,” said a statement.

While there's still some way to go before we restore our operations to pre-pandemic levels and return to profitability, we are well on the recovery path with healthy revenue and a solid cash balance at the end of our first half of 2021-22

- Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum

"As we began our 2021-22 financial year, COVID-19 vaccination programmes were being rolled out at unprecedented scale around the world,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group. “Across the Group, we saw operations and demand pick up as countries started to ease travel restrictions. This momentum accelerated over the summer and continues to grow steadily into the winter season and beyond.”

Stock - Sheikh Ahmed at Airshow press conference
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

The 81 per cent revenue recovery was a direct outcome from the steady easing of travel restrictions worldwide since summer, and the corresponding increase in demand for air transport as countries progressed their COVID-19 vaccination programmes. "Our ability to pivot and pull through the toughest period in our history to date, can be attributed to Emirates' and dnata's strong brands, high quality products and services, digital and innovation capabilities, and our amazing people,” said Sheikh Ahmed. “We intend to continue investing in these core areas to take our business into the future, together with the leaner processes and new technology capabilities that we've implemented in the past months."

Cash injection

The Group tapped into “strong” cash reserves, while also accessing funds through ICD (Investment Corporation of Dubai) and the broader financial community. These helped with stabilising operations to “support business needs through the unprecedented challenges wrought on the aviation and travel industry by COVID-19”. In the first half of 2021-22, the owner injected an additional Dh2.5 billion as equity investment and “they continue to support the airline on its recovery path”.

Re-hiring drive

Emirates Group's employee numbers dropped 2 per cent to 73,571 from end-March levels. In line with an expected ramp-up in capacity and business activities, Emirates and dnata have launched targeted recruitment drives to support requirements, “prioritising the rehiring of employees previously on furlough or made redundant”.

Cost factor

Operating costs were up 22 per cent against an overall capacity growth of 66 per cent. Fuel costs more than doubled from the same period last year, mainly from an 81 per cent “higher fuel uplift in line with substantially increased flight operations during the six-month period up to end of September”. In addition, there was also the increase in average oil prices.

Fuel, which was the largest component of the airline's operating cost in pre-pandemic reporting cycles, accounted for 20 per cent of operating costs compared to only 11 per cent in the first six months of last year.

The Group’s cash position was at Dh18.8 billion on September 30 compared to Dh19.8 billion on March 31.