Emirates reports surge in annual profit, warns of coronavirus impact

Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, reported a 21 per cent rise in full-year profit on Sunday, but warned the outbreak of the new coronavirus hit its performance in the fourth quarter of the financial year.

The Dubai state carrier made 1.1 billion dirhams ($287.5 million) in the 12 months to March 31, compared to 871 million dirhams ($237 million) a year earlier.

Revenue contracted 6.1 per cent to 92 billion dirham ($25 billion) as the number of passengers carried fell 4.2 per cent to 56.2 million.

Emirates blamed the drop in revenue on runway works at Dubai International airport last year, forcing the airline to reduce capacity for 45 days, and the coronavirus pandemic which has crushed travel demand.

The airline suspended regular, scheduled passengers flights in late March, though it has since operated some services for foreigners leaving the United Arab Emirates, whilst cargo flights continue to operate.

Emirates began its service to the Maldives in May 1987 using a single Boeing 727 aircraft.

With three times daily non-stop service between Dubai and Male, Emirates has since become a major airline operating to the Maldives and a preferred airline for tourists visiting the island nation from far corners of the world, especially Europe.

However, all international airlines have suspended their operations to the Maldives after the island nation enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa late March in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Emirates sister airport services company dnata saw profit drop by 57 per cent to 618 million dirhams ($168 million), which the company attributed to increased investment in its catering and airport services divisions and weak demand for the travel business.

Dnata’s profit would have been 72 per cent lower had it not been for a one-time divestment, and the unit has started a review of its travel business which booked a 132 million dirham ($35.9 million) impairment.

Profit at Emirates Group, which counts Emirates airline and dnata amongst its assets, fell 28 per cent to 1.7 billion dirham ($462.8 million). Revenue was down 4.8 per cent to 104 billion dirham ($28.3 billion).

Unfavourable currency exchange rates cost the group 1 billion in profit, it said, whilst it also saw some respite from cheaper oil prices.

Note: With reporting by Reuters

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