Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, said a rebound in earnings over the past year faces a challenge this summer as a pilot shortage forces the Dubai-based carrier to trim frequencies.
Sales that stumbled after the low oil price clipped travel in Gulf economies continued to pick up in the second half through March 31, President Tim Clark said Wednesday in Hamburg. US demand has also rebounded from restrictions imposed early in Donald Trump’s presidency.
The revival will come under pressure as a shortfall of 100 to 150 pilots compels Emirates to pare frequencies to destinations including Fort Lauderdale and Miami during the looming high season for global travel. Cuts will also extend to several European and Asian routes, according to reports in the Gulf.
“We’re a tad short in pilots,” Clark said, adding that the service reductions will be short term and that crew numbers should be “alright by September or October.” Factors including economic growth in the US and UK and high employment and rising wages in Germany continue to favor growth, he said.
Clark was in Hamburg to promote the carrier’s new first class product on a Boeing 777 at the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo, with the cabins also set to feature on new 787 Dreamliners.
The executive also said that Emirates is continuing to weigh a basic economy offering that would include hand luggage, food and inflight entertainment only, and that options to buy more A380s may be exercised “sooner than later”, though no decision has yet been reached on engine choice for the latest batch.
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