Emirates Group boosted full-year profit 67 percent as the world’s biggest long-haul airline scrapped lower-margin flights and benefited from a revival in Middle East travel demand.
Net income increased to 4.11 billion dirhams (US$1.1 billion) in the 12 months ended March 31, with sales advancing 8.1 percent to 102 billion dirhams, the Dubai-based company said in a statement Wednesday.
Emirates has responded to its first annual earnings decline for five years in fiscal 2017 by paring frequencies to destinations including the US. While the higher price of crude has spurred demand from the Persian Gulf’s oil-based economies, a pilot shortage weighed on operations in the second half.
"We saw the gradual recovery of economic activity in key markets which drove a strong uptick in airfreight activity and, to a lesser extent, a rise in air travel and tourism demand," Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said. "Business conditions, while improved, remained tough."
A pilot pinch threatens to compromise the carrier’s emergence from the toughest operating conditions in a three-decade history that’s seen it become an industry heavyweight by using the position of the Gulf at a natural crossroads for inter-continental flights.
“For Emirates, surging oil prices in the second half of our financial year increased our operating costs,” Sheikh Ahmed said in the statement. “It also stoked the embers of economic recovery which contributed to better seat load factors and a modest climb in yields.”
Earnings at other Gulf operators remain under pressure. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Aviation Group is shrinking operations after a $1.87 billion loss in 2016 and Qatar Airways said it suffered a significant loss in the year through March after a Saudi-led embargo forced the scrapping of some routes and the diversion of others.