DUBAI, May 10 – Emirates airline posted Tuesday a 51.9% surge in annual net profits of 5.4 billion dirhams ($1.5 billion) as it carried four million more passengers than the previous year.
"We had a year full of growth and expansion" the head of Dubai\’s flagship carrier, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, told a news conference.
Total profits for Emirates Group, including other subsidiaries, stood at 5.9 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion), with revenues at 57.4 billion dirhams ($15.6 billion) in the financial year ending March 31, he said.
The revenues of the Emirates Airlines alone grew by 25 percent from last year to reach 54.4 billion dirhams ($14.8 billion), the company said.
It said that 31.4 million passengers flew with the Middle East\’s largest carrier, an increase of 14.5 percent, or four million passengers, compared to the previous year.
Revenue from cargo was also up by 27.6 percent to $2.4 billion.
Emirates has "faced the same challenges" as other carriers, Sheikh Ahmed said, citing disruption caused by the Icelandic volcanic eruption and earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, as well as rising fuel prices.
But he said Emirates was "fortunate to be operating in the Middle East" citing the International Air Transport Association (IATA) passenger growth figures for the region, which he put at 17.8 percent last year.
Passenger yield also increased by 8.5 percent and the passenger seat factor reached 80 percent, the highest for IATA in the Middle East.
The Emirates Group cash balance "rose substantially to hit a record high at 16 billion dirhams ($4.4 billion)," said the statement.
Operating costs rose 22.7 percent, reaching 48.9 billion dirhams ($13.3 billion).
"This increase correlates with the rise in fuel prices and increased activity levels in addition to an overall growth in staff numbers and a rise in direct operating costs such as handling, in-flight costs and aircraft maintenance," it said.
"Despite unforeseen challenges in the form of political instability and shocking natural disasters we have managed, through sheer determination, nimbleness and quick thinking, to produce our best ever result," said Sheikh Ahmed.
Emirates was able to "partially shield itself against a dramatic increase in fuel prices in the second half of the year," the statement said, adding that the cost of fuel amounted to 16.8 billion dirhams ($4.6 billion), or 34.4 percent of total operating cost.
Oil prices have surged as the region was rocked by a wave of anti-regime protests that toppled autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.
Libya, a key crude-exporting nation that was producing some 1.7 million barrels a day (bpd) before an uprising against strongman Moamer Kadhafi broke out in mid-February, has seen its output slashed since the revolt began.
Last year, the Dubai carrier\’s net profits jumped 416 percent from $187 million to $964 million.
Emirates Group profits last year hit $1.1 billion, up 248 percent from $325 million in the year before.
Emirates, serving 111 destinations in 66 countries, is considered one of the world\’s fastest-growing airlines. It has a fleet of 148 aircraft in service in addition to three others on lease.
The company also has orders placed for 193 new aircraft worth $66 billion.
It is the largest single customer of Airbus\’ A380 super jumbo with 15 units already in service and 75 more on order.