Emirates Group announces first year of loss in 30 years despite 53% increase in freight revenue

The Emirates Group today reported a loss of AED 22.1 billion (US$ 6.0 billion) for the financial year ended 31 March 2021, its first-ever year of loss in over 30 years.  The Group’s revenue was AED 35.6 billion (US$ 9.7 billion), a decline of 66% over last year’s results. The Group’s cash balance was AED 19.8 billion (US$ 5.4 billion), down 23% from last year.

The airline attributed this significant drop in revenue to the impact of Covid-19 related flight and travel restrictions throughout its entire financial year 2020-21.

While the airlines suffered a hefty loss, its cargo division reported a revenue of AED 17.1 billion ($4.7 billion), an increase of 53% over last year, a result of the strong demand in air freight throughout the year.

The freight yield per freight tonne-kilometre (FTKM) increased for the carrier strongly by 88%, due to the unique pandemic situation which led to significantly reduced cargo capacity in the market worldwide.

However, the tonnage carried decreased by 22% to reach 1.9 million tonnes, as a result of reduced available belly hold capacity for the entire year. Towards the end of 2020-21, Emirates’ SkyCargo’s total freighter fleet stood unchanged at 11 Boeing 777Fs.

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to take a tremendous toll on human lives, communities, economies, and on the aviation and travel industry. In 2020-21, Emirates and dnata were hit hard by the drop in demand for international air travel as countries closed their borders and imposed stringent travel restrictions.”

~ Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive, Emirates Airline and Group

“Emirates SkyCargo put in a stellar performance by rapidly responding to new demand in a changing global marketplace, contributing to 60% of the airline’s total transport revenue,” reads a release by the company.

During these times, with passenger flights grounded, all hopes were tied to Emirates SkyCargo division which quickly scaled up its operations and rebuilt its cargo network to meet the growing demand from shippers.

Although the carrier’s cargo division made several drastic changes to keep its revenue leveled, the figures very well show how the pandemic took its toll on Emirates Group.   

To meet the demand, Emirates SkyCargo supplemented its existing freighter capacity and brought into service 19 “mini freighters” – by modifying Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft with seats in the economy cabin removed to make room for more cargo.  It further introduced new loading protocols to safely utilize overhead bins and passenger seats to carry cargo.

Emirates SkyCargo also supported the global supply chains for food, medical, and other trade items, and tapped into its pharma capabilities and infrastructure to facilitate the worldwide distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and humanitarian relief to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Port of Beirut explosions.

In addition to the same, earlier in October, Emirates SkyCargo set up a dedicated GDP-certified airside hub in Dubai for Covid-19 vaccines and also partnered with UNICEF to facilitate the rapid transport of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations through Dubai.

The total cargo and passenger capacity of the airline declined by 58% to 24.8 billion ATKMs at the end of 2020-21, caused by the pandemic related to flight and travel restrictions including a complete suspension of commercial passenger services for nearly eight weeks as directed by the UAE government from 25 March 2020.

The report further stated that in 2020-21, dnata recorded a loss of AED 1.8 billion ($496 million) for the first time. This includes impairment charges of AED 766 million ($209 million) on goodwill and other intangible assets across all its divisions.

With reduced flight and travel activity across the world, dnata’s total revenue decreased by 62 percent to AED 5.5 billion ($1.5 billion). dnata’s international business accounts for 62 percent of its revenue.

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