Dubai: Emirates' loss narrows as revenues increase

The strong revenue recovery reflects quick return of passenger demand wherever flight and travel restrictions were eased.


Waheed Abbas

Published: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 2:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 3:13 PM

Emirates Group on Wednesday announced net loss of Dh5.7 billion for the first-half of 2021-22, substantially lower than Dh14.1 billion loss recorded for the same period last year, helped by the recovery in the aviation sector.

The group revenue was Dh24.7 billion ($6.7 billion) for the first six months of 2021-22, up 81 per cent from Dh13.7 billion ($3.7 billion) during the same period last year.

This strong revenue recovery was underpinned by the easing of travel restrictions worldwide and the corresponding increase in demand for air transport as countries progressed their Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

The Group also reported an EBITDA of Dh5.6 billion ($1.5 billion), a dramatic turnaround from a negative Dh43 million ($12 million) EBITDA during the same period last year, illustrating its strong return to operating profitability.

The Group continued to maintain a healthy cash position which stood at Dh18.8 billion ($5.1 billion) on September 30, 2021, compared to Dh19.8 billion ($5.4 billion) as on March 31, 2021.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group said: “As we began our 2021-22 financial year, Covid-19 vaccination programmes were being rolled out at unprecedented scale around the world. Across the Group, we saw operations and demand pick up as countries started to ease travel restrictions. This momentum accelerated over the summer and continues to grow steadily into the winter season and beyond.

“Our cargo transport and handling businesses continued to perform strongly, providing the bedrock upon which we were able to quickly reinstate passenger services. While there’s still some way to go before we restore our operations to pre-pandemic levels and return to profitability, we are well on the recovery path with healthy revenue and a solid cash balance at the end of our first half of 2021-22.

Sheikh Ahmed added: “We would like to thank our customers for their continued support, as well as all our aviation and travel industry stakeholders and partners for their efforts that have made it possible for international air travel to resume safely and smoothly.”

“Our ability to pivot and pull through the toughest period in our history to date, can be attributed to Emirates’ and dnata’s strong brands, high quality products and services, digital and innovation capabilities, and our amazing people. We intend to continue investing in these core areas to take our business into the future, together with the leaner processes and new technology capabilities that we’ve implemented in the past months.”

The Emirates Group has been able to tap on its own strong cash reserves, and access funding through its Owner and the broader financial community to support its business needs through the unprecedented challenges wrought on the aviation and travel industry by Covid-19. In the first half of 2021-22, Dubai government further injected Dh2.5 billion ($681 million) into Emirates by way of an equity investment and they continue to support the airline on its recovery path.


The Emirates Group’s employee base, compared to March 31, 2021, dropped marginally by 2 per cent to an overall count of 73,571 at September 30, 2021. In line with the expected ramp up in capacity and business activities in the coming months, Emirates and dnata have embarked on targeted recruitment drives to support its requirements, prioritising the rehiring of employees previously on furlough or made redundant.


In the first half of the 2021-22 financial year, Emirates loss was Dh5.8 billion ($1.6 billion), compared to last year’s loss of Dh12.6 billion ($3.4 billion). Emirates revenue, including other operating income, of Dh21.7 billion ($5.9 billion) was up 86 per cent compared with the Dh11.7 billion ($3.2 billion) recorded during the same period last year. The strong revenue recovery reflects quick return of passenger demand wherever flight and travel restrictions were eased around the world.

Emirates operating costs increased by 22 per cent against an overall capacity growth of 66 per cent. Fuel costs more than doubled compared to the same period last year. This was primarily due to an 81 per cent higher fuel uplift in line with substantially increased flight operations during the six-month period up to end of September, and also an increase in average oil prices. Fuel, which was the largest component of the airline’s operating cost in pre-pandemic reporting cycles, accounted for 20 per cent of operating costs compared to only 11 per cent in the first six months of last year.

Driven by the significant increase in operations during the six months, Emirates’ EBITDA recovered to Dh5 billion ($1.4 billion) compared to Dh290 million ($79 million) for the same period last year.

During the first six months of 2021-22, Emirates took delivery of 2 new A380s and retired 2 older aircraft from its fleet as part of its long-standing strategy to improve overall efficiency, minimise its emissions footprint, and provide high quality customer experiences.

Flights, services and partnerships

With a clear focus on restoring its passenger network and connections through its Dubai hub, Emirates responded with agility whenever travel restrictions lifted to restart services or layer on additional flights. In July, it launched services to Miami, a new destination, and during the first half of 2021-22, Emirates also activated codeshare and interline partnerships with Airlink, Aeromar, Azul, Cemair and South African Airways to expand connectivity options for customers.

By September 30, the airline was operating passenger and cargo services to 139 airports, utilising its entire Boeing 777 fleet and 37 A380s.

In the first half of 2021-22, Emirates Skycargo boosted its pharma cool chain handling infrastructure with the addition of 94 cool room pallet positions to its existing EU GDP compliant infrastructure at Dubai airport. Emirates Skycargo continues to support the global roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, having carried over 150 million doses through its Dubai hub by July 2021.

New technologies

Emirates also continued to introduce initiatives that improve travel experience, boost customer confidence, and enable secure and efficient operations. In June, Emirates became the first airline to sign up for the worldwide implementation of the IATA Travel Pass, in addition its ongoing investments in additional biometric and other digital verification technologies at Dubai Airport.

For its premium customer and frequent flyers, Emirates reinstated more of its signatures Lounge and Chauffeur Drive services at key airports outside of Dubai, and it also launched an online subscription platform “Skywards+”, to offer its 27 million members easy access to customized rewards and privileges.

Overall capacity during the first six months of the year increased by 66 per cent to 16.3 billion Available Tonne Kilometres (ATKM) due to a substantially expanded flight programme as more countries eased travel and flight restrictions. Capacity measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASKM), more than tripled by 250 per cent, whilst passenger traffic carried measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKM) was up by 335 per cent with average Passenger Seat Factor recovering to 47.9 per cent, compared with last year’s pandemic figure of 38.6 per cent.

Emirates carried 6.1 million passengers between April 1 and September 30, 2021, up 319 per cent from the same period last year. The volume of cargo uplifted at 1.1 million tonnes has increased by 39 per cent, which brings the business back to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels by volume handled. This shows Emirates Skycargo’s outstanding agility and ability to meet the requirements of its customers whether it be for the transport of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, essential goods like food and perishables, or champion horses and high performance cars.


Dnata’s businesses in cargo and ground handling, catering and retail, and travel services saw demand return quickly wherever pandemic-related flight and travel restrictions were eased. Demonstrating the agility and capability of its highly skilled teams, dnata was able to respond quickly to customer needs with high quality services - from supporting its airline customers in reinstating flight operations safely and smoothly, to helping customers book their long-awaited travel plans.

dnata also continued to invest in critical infrastructure to deliver more efficient world class services to its customers. In the first six months of 2021-22, dnata opened a 5,000 square meter workshop dedicated to providing advanced maintenance for airside passenger buses at Dubai airport.

dnata’s revenue, including other operating income, was Dh3.7 billion ($1 billion), a 55 per cent increase compared to Dh2.4 billion ($644 million) last year.

Overall profit for dnata is Dh85 million ($23 million), compared to last year’s loss of Dh1.5 billion ($396 million).

dnata’s airport operations remains the largest contributor to revenue with Dh2.5 billion ($688 million), a 52 per cent increase as compared to the same period last year.

Across its operations, the number of aircraft handled by dnata increased sharply by 116 per cent to 222,668, and it handled 1.4 million tonnes of cargo, up 9 per cent.

dnata’s flight catering and retail operation, contributed Dh766 million ($209 million) to its revenue, up 80 per cent. The number of meals uplifted doubled to 16.6 million meals for the first half of the financial year after last year’s 8.3 million.

dnata's travel division contributed Dh147 million ($40 million) to revenue after Dh95 million ($26 million) for the same period last year, up 55 per cent. The division reported an underlying total transactional value (TTV) sales of Dh726 million ($198 million), after an exceptional negative TTV of Dh246 million ($67 million) for the same period last year which was caused by the significant volumes of refunds and pay-out in cancelled customer bookings at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

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