Emirates Group loses $6 billion in the past fiscal year, restarts service to Malta

Emirates Group made this announces:

Group records annual loss of AED 22.1 billion (US$6.0 billion) due to COVID-19 pandemic impact, its first non-profitable year in over three decades

  • Group revenue of AED 35.6 billion (US$ 9.7 billion) impacted by worldwide travel restrictions and border closures during the entire financial year
  • Results impacted by one-time impairment charges of AED 1.5 billion on Group’s non-financial assets
  • Ends year with solid cash balance of AED 19.8 billion (US$ 5.4 billion)

Emirates reports a loss of AED 20.3 billion (US$ 5.5 billion) down from AED 1.1 billion (US$ 288 million) profit in the previous year

  • Revenue declined by 66% to AED 30.9 billion (US$ 8.4 billion), due to the temporary suspension of passenger flights at its hub in March 2020 and ongoing global travel restrictions
  • Airline capacity reduced to 24.8 billion ATKMs, with aircraft fleet size reduced by 11 aircraft

dnata reports a loss of AED 1.8 billion (US$ 496 million) down from AED 618 million (US$ 168 million) profit in the previous year

  • Revenue declined by 62% to AED 5.5 billion (US$ 1.5 billion), reflecting the pandemic impact across all business divisions in the UAE and worldwide
  • Expands global footprint with the full acquisition of Destination Asia, and the opening of new catering and retail facilities

The Emirates Group today announced its first year of loss in over 30 years caused by a significant drop in revenue, fully attributed to the impact of COVID-19 related flight and travel restrictions throughout its entire financial year 2020-21.

Released in its 2020-21 Annual Report, the Emirates Group posted a loss of AED 22.1 billion (US$ 6.0 billion) for the financial year ended 31 March 2021 compared with an AED 1.7 billion (US$ 456 million) profit for last year. 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 mainly due to weak demand caused by the various pandemic related business and travel restrictions across all of the Group’s core business divisions and markets.

For the first time in the Group’s history, redundancies were implemented across all parts of the business. As a result, the Group’s total workforce reduced by 31% to 75,145 employees, representing over 160 different nationalities.

Keeping a tight control on costs, across the Group, financial obligations were restructured, contracts renegotiated, processes examined and operations consolidated. The various cost reduction initiatives returned an estimated saving of AED 7.7 billion during the year.

In 2020-21, the Group collectively invested AED 4.7 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) in new aircraft and facilities, the acquisition of companies, and the latest technologies to position the business for recovery and future growth. It also continued to invest resources towards environmental initiatives, as well as supporting communities and incubator programmes that nurture talent and innovation to drive future industry growth.

Sheikh Ahmed said: “No one knows when the pandemic will be over, but we know recovery will be patchy. Economies and companies that entered pandemic times in a strong position, will be better placed to bounce back. Until 2020-21, Emirates and dnata have had a track record of growth and profitability, based on solid business models, steady investments in capability and infrastructure, a strong drive for innovation, and a deep talent pool led by a stable leadership team. These fundamental ingredients of our success remain unchanged. Together with Dubai’s undiminished ambitions to grow economic activity and build a city for the future, I am confident that Emirates and dnata will recover and be stronger than before.”

He concluded: “In the year ahead, we will continue to adopt an agile approach in responding to the dynamic marketplace. We aim to recover to our full operating capacity as quickly as possible to serve our customers, and to continue contributing to the rebuilding of economies and communities impacted by the pandemic.”

Emirates performance

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

Emirates received three new A380 aircraft during the financial year and phased out 14 older aircraft comprising of 9 Boeing 777-300ERs and 5 A380s, leaving its total fleet count at 259 at the end of March. Emirates’ average fleet age remains at a youthful 7.3 years.

Emirates’ order book for 200 aircraft remains unchanged at this time. The airline is firmly committed to its long-standing strategy of operating a modern and efficient fleet, which underscores its “Fly Better” brand promise, as young aircraft are better for the environment, better for operations, and better for customers.

During the year, Emirates reactivated its strategic codeshare partnership with flydubai, and entered into agreements with new partners TAP Air Portugal, FlySafair, and Airlink in South Africa, to expand connectivity for its customers.

From zero scheduled passenger flights at the start of the financial year, to operations in over 120 destinations by March 31, 2021, Emirates has shown its ability to adapt and respond to challenges, and the resilience of its people and business model.

With significantly reduced and constrained capacity deployment across most markets, Emirates’ total revenue for the financial year declined 66% to AED 30.9 billion (US$ 8.4 billion). Currency fluctuations this year had no significant impact on airline revenue.

Total operating costs decreased by 46% from last financial year. Cost of ownership (depreciation and amortization) and employee cost were the two biggest cost components for the airline in 2020-21, followed by fuel, which accounted for 14% of operating costs compared to 31% in 2019-20. The airline’s fuel bill declined by 76% to AED 6.4 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) compared to the previous year, driven primarily by 69% lower uplift in line with capacity reduction.

Due to ongoing pandemic-related flight and travel restrictions, the airline reported a loss of AED 20.3 billion (US$ 5.5 billion) after last year’s AED 1.1 billion (US$ 288 million) profit, and a negative profit margin of 65.6%. This includes a one-time impairment charge of AED 710 million (US$ 193 million) mainly relating to certain aircraft which are currently grounded and are not expected to return to service before their scheduled retirement within the next financial year.

Emirates carried 6.6 million passengers (down 88%) in 2020-21, with seat capacity down by 83%. The airline reports a Passenger Seat Factor of 44.3%, compared with last year’s passenger seat factor of 78.5%; and a 48% increase in passenger yield to 38.9 fils (10.6 US cents) per Revenue Passenger Kilometre (RPKM), due largely to a favourable route mix, fares and continued healthy demand for premium seats. Seat load factor and yield results cannot be compared against the previous year’s performance due to the unusual pandemic situation.

In response to the pandemic, Emirates led the industry in developing new service and operating protocols to protect its customers and employees. During the year, it launched numerous customer initiatives such as: providing the industry’s first complimentary COVID-19 medical cover for all passengers; waiving fees so customers can rebook their travel without penalty; expediting refunds handling; and fast-tracking biometric processing and other technology projects that enhanced the travel experience while reducing contact at airport touchpoints.

Emirates invested to upgrade its signature A380 experience with new Premium Economy seats and other product enhancements. It also launched new technology platforms Emirates Partners Portal and Emirates Gateway, to better engage and serve travel trade partners.

For frequent flyers, Emirates Skywards offered generous extension on Tier status and Miles validity until 2022, and launched various initiatives to help its members earn and redeem rewards even if they are unable to immediately travel.

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

Emirates SkyCargo quickly scaled up operations and rebuilt its cargo network to meet strong demand from shippers who faced a capacity crunch when the pandemic forced airlines to drastically reduce flights. It supplemented its existing freighter capacity by bringing into service 19 “mini freighters” – modified Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft with seats in the economy cabin removed to make room for more cargo. The cargo division also introduced new loading protocols to safely utilize overhead bins and passenger seats to carry cargo.

In addition to supporting global supply chains for food, medical and other trade items, Emirates SkyCargo also tapped on its pharma capabilities and infrastructure to support the worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and humanitarian relief to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Port of Beirut explosions.

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

With the strong demand in air freight throughout the year, Emirates’ cargo division reported a revenue of AED 17.1 billion (US$ 4.7 billion), an increase of 53% over last year.

Freight yield per Freight Tonne Kilometre (FTKM) increased strongly by 88%, due to the unique pandemic situation which led to significantly reduced cargo capacity in the market worldwide.

Tonnage carried decreased by 22% to reach 1.9 million tonnes, due to the reduced available bellyhold capacity for the entire year. At the end of 2020-21, Emirates’ SkyCargo’s total freighter fleet stood unchanged at 11 Boeing 777Fs.

Emirates’ hotels portfolio recorded revenue of AED 296 million (US$ 81 million), a decline of 49% over last year as the events business dried up and facilities had to shut temporarily due to the pandemic.

During the year, Emirates successfully restructured various aircraft leases and loans. The support from aviation lessors and financing partners during these challenging times reflects the financial community’s confidence in Emirates’ business model, and its mid to longer term prospects.

In addition to the AED 14.5 billion financing that was raised for aircraft and general corporate purposes in 2020-21, Emirates has already received committed offers to finance two aircraft deliveries due in 2021-22 and continues to tap the financial market for further liquidity to provide a cushion for the potential impact of COVID-19 on the business cash flows in the near term.

Emirates closed the financial year with cash assets of AED 15.1 billion (US$ 4.1 billion), a position which would have stronger if not for a one-time payout of AED 8.5 billion for customer refunds.

In other news, Emirates resumed three weekly services to Malta via Larnaca, Cyprus, on July 14, 2021, further expanding its European network to 34 destinations, and offering customers worldwide more travel choices and enhanced connectivity via Dubai.

Flights to/from Malta will operate three times weekly through the airline’s existing Larnaca service on its two-class Boeing 777-300ER, offering 42 lie-flat seats in Business and 386 ergonomically designed seats in Economy class.