Emirates defies slump with $46m profit; new jet order

The A380 in Emirates livery.

Dubai-based Emirates Group has defied the worldwide industry trend by posting a rise in profits for the six months ending September 30.

The group said it recorded half-yearly profits of Dh168.2 million ($46 million), compared to Dh164.2 million posted in the same period last year.

The profit announcement comes on the heels of the largest-ever aircraft order by Emirates at the recent Dubai 2001 air show, valued at $15 billion.

The order for the super-jumbo Airbus A380, A340-600, A330-200 and Boeing 777 aircraft, will boost the airline's fleet to 100 aircraft by the year 2010.

"We are very pleased to announce half-yearly profits at a time when confidence in the airline industry has been shaken by the recent tragic events in the US, and by the earlier global air traffic shortfall," said Emirates chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

"Our focus now is to maintain a strict regime of cost management across the company to ensure that our results at the end of this financial year will continue to return a profit."

For the next six months, Emirates is employing various cost control measures, including a moratorium on staff recruitment.

The group said its half-yearly operating revenue surged 14 per cent to Dh3.34 billion compared to Dh2.95 billion during the same period last year.

Even through overall seat capacity increased by over 23.3 per cent, seat factor was maintained at 74 per cent, compared to 74.7 per cent last year.

Cash balances on September 30 were robust at Dh2,800 million.

At the air show early last month, the carrier signed letters of intents with rival aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing for new planes.

The deal with Airbus worth a massive $8.45 billion includes orders for 22 giant double-decker A380 aircraft and options for 10 more.

The order for the 32 A380 aircraft was worth about $7 billion with delivery to start from 2006.

The airline also ordered three twin-engined A330 Airbuses worth $450 million and eight four-engined A340-600 Airbuses worth $1 billion.

It said it will buy 25 Boeing 777 jets in a deal worth $6.6 billion with the US aircraft maker.

They will be delivered between 2004 and 2010.

The airline also announced it will launch five new non-stop flights next year to Australia, Japan, Mauritius, Morocco and Sudan.

The carrier said it will fly Boeing 777s to Perth in western Australia and Osaka, Japan, four times a week.