By David Ingham
Sheikh Ahmed says that sticking to its guns and not cutting back was key to Emirates' Airlines’ 11% increase in profits and the whole group's 12.9% revenue increase.
Emirates Group defied the doomsayers by posting increased revenue and income for financial year 2002. The group, which comprises Emirates Airline and Dnata, saw revenue increase by 12.9% to reach Dhs 7.8 billion (US $2.1b) in the year ending March 31, 2002, compared with Dhs 6.9 billion (US $1.9b) in the previous year.Total group net income totalled Dhs 603 million (US $164m). Within that, Emirates Airlines’ profits were Dhs 468.2 million (US $127m), an 11% increase on last year’s 421.8 million (US $115m). Dnata recorded net income of Dhs 134.8 million (US $37m), up from Dhs109.5 million (US$30m) last year.“In a normal year, our profitable results would have been a superb achievement,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, group chairman. “In 2001- 2002, it is exceptional and probably unique.”Sheikh Ahmed admitted that Emirates was “not immune” to the post September downturn, but said that it came through by sticking to its guns. “We only briefly and marginally reduced our schedules, redoubled our efforts in our markets, severely restrained costs, and kept to our plans,” he said.Maurice Flanagan, Emirates' Group managing director, used the announcement as an opportunity to rebut allegations that Emirates receives hidden state subsidies. “The Government of Dubai, in the promotion of Dubai's economy, sensibly maintains an Open Skies policy,” he said. “We are therefore subject to unlimited foreign competition in our home market. In these circumstances, we have to be smart to survive, and I am happy to say that we do much more than survive.”Emirates reported that airline passenger numbers grew by 18.3% to reach 6.8 million in 2002. Seat load factors dipped slightly from 75.1% to 74.3%. Emirates SkyCargo’s reported a 19.5% increase in cargo tonnage to 400,569 tonnes.