Emirates airline has reported its 19th consecutive profit – a whopping Dh2.3 billion ($637 million) – and was immediately inundated by questions from journalists and rival airlines suggesting government support, even though the chairman, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, had anticipated such re-actions stating: “I reiterate to all the sceptics that you are invited to examine the pages of this annual report and I hope you will be convinced that Emirates is not the recipient of any subsidies”.
The positive results for the airline, which is now worth billions also triggered rumours of an IPO in the financial world. To the question: “Are you going to privatise Emirates?” Sheikh Ahmed’s response was that the Dubai Government, the main shareholder, would have to make such a decision, but that there were ongoing studies, as always, in preparation should such a move be decided.
The Emirates Group announced record-breaking net profits of Dh2.6 billion for the financial year ending 31 March 2005, an impressive Dh853 million, or 40 per cent over the previous year.
Group revenues increased by Dh5.1 billion or 36 per cent to Dh19.1 billion versus Dh14 billion last year. The Group’s cash balance totaled a robust Dh8.2 billion at the end of March this year, an improvement of 12 per cent versus Dh7.3 billion a year earlier.
For 2004-05, The Emirates Group will pay an increased dividend of Dh368 million to its owner, the Govern-ment of Dubai, versus Dh329 million last year. In total, the ownership will have received Dh1.1 billion from The Emirates Group, since dividends started being paid six years ago.
The Group’s sharp sales growth and record returns rode on customers’ increasing preference for its products as illustrated by the 2.1 million more passengers, who flew Emirates in the latest financial year, for a new record total of 12.5 million.
Sheikh Ahmed said: “We have had another successful year for the company and the 17th consecutive profitable year for the air-line. The rapid-growth Emirates business model requires a high rate to sustain our enormous investments in people, advanced equipment and facilities as well as in IT and other support services.”
He continued: “After paying a fair dividend to the Group’s ownership and rewarding our employees with a well- deserved bonus, we will plough the profits right back into the business to keep our airline and travel-related group of companies competitive and to keep treating our customers in the manner, they have come to expect from Emirates.”
By JONNA SIMON
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