Emirates Airline reported its highest ever profit as its fuel costs sunk due to lower crude oil prices. The airline’s profits rocketed 56 per cent to Dh7.1bn (£1.32bn) in 2015-2016, a new annual record, after its fuel costs fell by 31 per cent. The airline carried 51.8m passengers over the year, 7.7 per cent more passengers than the year prior. However, passenger seat factor fell by 3.1 percentage points to 76.5 per cent.
“The past year has been a turbulent one. Many economies and industries have been hit by weak consumer and investor confidence wrought by plunging oil prices, terror threats, and continued socio-political instability in regions around the world,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates chairman.
“The fall in oil price has been a double-edged sword. While it provided relief on one of our major costs, it also created strong downward pressure on margins, as the industry lowered fares to motivate travel in a weak global economic environment. We also chose to pass some of our savings from lower fuel prices to our customers.”
The lower price of oil helped the airline to reduce operating costs by eight per cent. Non-fuel cost rose by five per cent due to “ongoing capacity expansion”.
But combined with a rise in passengers, lower fuel costs helped offset “unfavourable currency exchange” movements.
“The unfavourable currency exchange continued to erode our earnings, as the US dollar strengthened against currencies in our major markets. In the first half of 2015-16, we tackled a major lobbying campaign led by the three largest US carriers to restrict Emirates’ growth in America,” Sheikh Ahmed added.
The airline also said that it has 251 aircraft, up from 231 in the year prior as the airline continued to expand.
“Looking at the year ahead, we expect that the low oil prices will continue to be a double-edged sword – a boon for our operating costs, but a bane for global business and consumer confidence,” Sheikh Ahmed continued. “The strong US dollar against major currencies will remain a challenge, as will the looming threat of protectionism in some countries.”
Meanwhile, Emirates Group, which includes ground handling services, reported profits of Dh8.2bn, a 50 per cent increase on the year prior and the 28th consecutive year of profit. However, revenues were down 3.1 per cent at DH93bn.