Dubai-based Emirates Group has posted a profit of AED1.7 billion (£367 million) for the financial year ended March 31st, down 28 per cent from last year.
The fall was attributed to a slowdown in operations during a runway closure at Dubai International during the first quarter, and the more recent impact of flight and travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Revenue at the group reached AED104 billion (£22.5 billion), a decline of five per cent on last year.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive of Emirates Group, said: “For the first 11 months of 2019-20, Emirates and dnata were performing strongly, and we were on track to deliver against our business targets.
“However, from mid-February things changed rapidly as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world, causing a sudden and tremendous drop in demand for international air travel as countries closed their borders and imposed stringent travel restrictions.”
He added: “Even without a pandemic, our industry has always been vulnerable to a multitude of external factors. In 2019-20, the further strengthening of the US dollar against major currencies eroded our profits to the tune of AED1 billion, global airfreight demand remained soft for most of the year, and competition intensified in our key markets.”
Emirates said it would pay no dividend to the Investment Corporation of Dubai in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
At the 2019 Dubai Air Show in November, Emirates placed a US$16 billion order for 50 A350 XWBs, and a US$ 8.8 billion order for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
With first deliveries expected in 2023, these new aircraft will add to Emirates’ current fleet mix, and provide deployment flexibility within its long-haul hub model.
Al Maktoum concluded: “We expect it will take 18 months at least, before travel demand returns to a semblance of normality.
“In the meantime, we are actively engaging with regulators and relevant stakeholders, as they work to define standards to ensure the health and safety of travellers and operators in a post-pandemic world.
“Emirates and dnata stand to reactivate our operations to serve our customers, as soon as circumstances allow.”