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Emirates Group announced a significant boost in profits in its yearly earnings report released Wednesday.
The Dubai-based airline group’s net income jumped to $1.1 billion, a 67% increase in the 12 calendar months that ended March 31. Sales were also up 8.1%.
The airline group was able to bolster its bottom line partly in thanks to higher oil prices in the Gulf region, Emirates said in its report. Even though higher oil prices meant higher operating costs for the carrier, “it also stoked the embers of economic recovery which contributed to better seat load factors and a modest climb in yields,” its financial report said.
The higher numbers are particularly good news for the world’s largest long-haul carrier and its group after its profits faltered last year among several adverse travel factors, including immigration policy changes (like the US travel ban), new terrorism prevention guidelines (like the electronics ban) and a strong US dollar. That perfect storm brought an 80% drop in profits in Emirates’ last earnings report and forced Emirates Airline to cut 20% of its 126 weekly flights to the US in 2017.
Despite the buoyed profits, Emirates Airline in recent days has also faced staffing shortages of both pilots and cabin crew. The carrier’s financial report states its total employee numbers dropped a little more than 2% in the last year down to about 103,000 workers. The airline said in April it was short-handed about 100-150 pilots, forcing it to cut some routes from its schedule. Emirates President Tim Clark cited demand in the US bouncing back as one of the factors for the shortage.
Emirates also cited the strengthening of other currencies like the euro and the Australian dollar against the US dollar as part of the reason for its economic comeback. However, though many factors improved, business conditions “remained tough,” Emirates Chairman and CEO Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum wrote in his statement.
He cited pressure from low-cost airlines now capable of operating longer routes and political instability in Africa as some of the carrier’s challenges over the course of the year.
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