Freighter is the beacon of hope for Emirates as it notes its first loss in more than 30 years
Freight revenue was the bright spot for the Emirates Group, which revealed its first loss in over 30 years in its financial results for 2020-2021.
The carrier recorded an annual loss of AED 22.1 billion (US $ 6.0 billion) entirely due to the effect of the Covid pandemic which resulted in the massive withdrawal of flights and the closure of borders in the whole world. The previous year, 2019-2020, Emirates Group made a profit of AED 1.1 billion ($ 288 million).
The group said Emirates SkyCargo “has performed exceptionally” in responding quickly to new challenges and contributing 60% of the airline’s total transportation revenue.
While the tonnage of freight carried fell 22% to 1.9 million tonnes, due to reduced bunker capacity, freight revenues soared 53% to AED 17.1 billion (4, $ 7 billion), as yields jumped 88% in the face of limited global capacity.
The Group’s dnata handling branch saw its freight drop by 18% to 575,000 tonnes, reflecting the reduction in the flight capacity available on the market. Revenues from dnata’s airport operations in the United Arab Emirates, including ground handling and freight, fell to AED 1.7 billion ($ 455 million).
The group’s freight arm quickly ramped up operations and rebuilt its freight network to meet strong demand from shippers facing a capacity shortage as the pandemic forced all airlines to drastically reduce their flights. It supplemented its existing cargo ships by removing seats from 19 Boeing 777-300ER passenger planes to make room for more cargo and introduced new loading protocols to safely use overhead compartments and seats.
Meanwhile, Emirates SkyCargo’s total cargo fleet remained unchanged at 11 Boeing 777Fs.
Emirates received three new A380s during the year and phased out nine Boeing 777-300ERs and five older A380s, leaving its total fleet at 259 at the end of March.
Emirates SkyCargo also supported the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as humanitarian aid in Lebanon following the Beirut port explosion on August 4.
In October, it also set up a dedicated GDP-certified airside platform in Dubai for Covid-19 vaccines, and then partnered with UNICEF to quickly get the vaccines to developing countries.
The Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum group commented: “No one knows when the pandemic will be over, but we know that the recovery will be uneven. Through 2020-2021, Emirates and dnata have a history of growth and profitability, based on strong business models, constant investments in capacity and infrastructure, a strong drive for innovation and a deep talent pool led by a stable management team. These fundamental ingredients of our success remain unchanged. With Dubai’s undiminished ambitions to expand economic activity and build a city for the future, I am confident that Emirates and dnata will recover and be stronger than before.