Emirates has reported a hefty increase in annual profit as revenues and passenger numbers grew on its Australasian routes and despite challenges such as runway closures at its Dubai hub, the Ebola outbreak and armed conflict in several regions.
The Qantas alliance partner said in a statement on Thursday (Dubai time) operating profit for the 12 months to March 31 2015 was AED5.9 billion (A$2.0 billion), up 38 per cent from AED4.3 billion (A$1.5 billion) in the prior year.
Emirates chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum described the past year as a turbulent one for aviation given significant currency fluctuations, the response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa and armed conflict in several regions.
Al Maktoum also noted the 80 days during the year when one runway at Dubai Airport was closed due to upgrading works.
“Achieving our 27th consecutive year of profit and one of our best performances to date, is testimony to the strength of our brands and business fundamentals, as well as the dedication and talent of our workforce,” Al Maktoum said in a statement.
The Australasia and East Asia region represented the second largest geographical region in terms of revenue for Emirates, with sales of AED24.6 billion in its fiscal 2015 year, an increase of 3.3 per cent from the prior corresponding period.
The region trailed only Europe, where revenue rose 7.4 per cent to AED25.2 billion.
The Americas posted the strongest growth for Emirates, with revenue rising 20.2 per cent to AED11 billion.
Overall, Emirates carried 49.3 million passengers in the past year, up 10.7 per cent from 44.5 million in fiscal 2014.
It added 24 new aircraft and retired 10, bringing its all-widebody fleet to 217 passenger and 14 freighter aircraft.
Capacity measured by available seat kilometres rose 9.1 per cent, while load factors edged up 0.2 percentage points to 79.6 per cent.
Al Maktoum said the outlook for the year ahead aviation would be challenging, noting the rise of protectionism emerging in some markets and ongoing uncertainty for many currencies and economic markets around the world.
“However, we move into the new financial year with confidence, and a strong foundation for continued profitability with our strong balance sheet, solid track record, diverse global portfolio, and international talent pool,” Al Maktoum said.
“We will continue on our journey of steady and rational growth, and work even harder to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.”
Emirates, and Etihad and Qatar have been the subject of a campaign from three US carries – American, Delta and United – who claim the trio has received billions of dollars of unfair subsidies.
The three Middle East airlines all deny the accusations.
“Emirates, our home carrier, has to compete in an open marketplace with all of these other airlines. No short cuts, no protection, no subsidies. It must stand on its own feet and work hard to stay ahead of the competition,” United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in the Emirates annual report.