Emirates airline posts nearly 300% jump in profits

By Natasha Turak, CNBC

DUBAI — Emirates airline reported a massive comeback in its half-year earnings Thursday with a 282% jump in profits to 862 million dirhams ($235 million), thanks in part to lower fuel prices.

The head-turning figure comes off the back of the airline’s weakest full-year profit in a decade, a 69% drop in net profit for the year up to March 2019.

The Dubai-based carrier’s numbers were also boosted by an improved seat load factor — the measure of how efficiently a carrier fills seats and generates fare revenue — of 81.1%, with 29.6 million passengers carried, a 2.3 percentage point increase on the same period a year ago.

The airline carried 7.9% more passengers to Dubai compared to a year ago, an Emirates Group press release said Thursday. Revenue for 2019-2020 half year performance was down 3% to 47.3 billion dirhams.

Emirates Group, which includes the airline and other bodies like airports services provider Dnata, saw profit up 8% at 1.2 billion dirhams. Revenue was down 2% to 53.3 billion dirhams, which the group says is due to adverse factors including the September bankruptcy of British charter airline Thomas Cook, a temporary Dubai International Airport runway closure, and “unfavorable currency movements.”

International oil benchmark Brent crude was trading at $62.39 per barrel on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. London time, down more than 13% over the course of a year.

Emirates Airline and Group Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum was quoted in the group’s release as saying, “The lower fuel cost was a welcome respite as we saw our fuel bill drop by AED 2.0 billion compared to the same period last year. However, unfavourable currency movements wiped off approximately AED 1.2 billion from our profits.”

He added that the global outlook “is difficult to predict, but we expect the airline and travel industry to continue facing headwinds over the next six months with stiff competition adding downward pressure on margins.”