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Thu 2 Jan 2020 10:55 AM

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2019 'a year of recalibration' for Emirates airline, says Clark

News Airbus is to cease production on the A380 meant Emirates airline had to readjust its long-term fleet plans

2019 'a year of recalibration' for Emirates airline, says Clark

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has described 2019 as “a year of recalibration” as the Dubai government-owned airline adjusted to news European planemaker Airbus was to cease production on the A380 superjumbo and focused on enhancing customer service.

"This was a year of recalibration in terms of our fleet and network plans, when it became clear that the A380 programme will cease. Emirates' dynamic approach to capacity deployment – during the southern runway renovation at Dubai International, as well as in response to the capricious forces of politics and socio-economics throughout the year – demonstrated our agility and yielded results. We've also stayed focussed on delivering our "fly better" promise to customers through enhancing our product and service proposition at every touchpoint," Clark, who announced last month he would be stepping down as president of the airline, said in comments issued on Tuesday.

"In 2020, we'll continue to leverage our partnerships to provide even more connectivity and value for our customers. And we look forward to welcoming the world to Dubai for Expo2020, where we will showcase the future of aviation at the Emirates Pavilion."

Orders

In February, Airbus announced that the company would end A380 production by 2021, after Emirates reduced its last orders in favour of the A350 and A330neo aircraft. Airbus continues to provide maintenance, support and retrofitting services for the A380.

Bob Lange, senior vice president and head of market and product strategy at Airbus, told Arabian Business at the Dubai Airshow in November the A380 would remain an important part of its portfolio but it had no plans to build any aircraft models to replace it.

“We needed to take a decision on the A380, which we did,” he said. “It will be the backbone for the air transport industry for that whole 20-year period [through 2038]… We expect the smaller aircraft to catch up in 20 years’ time, but it will still be fairly balanced market between smaller and larger aircraft,” he added.

Reorganise

The Dubai-based carrier announced at the airshow it would buy 50 Airbus A350-900 widebody aircraft in a deal worth $16 billion, with delivery to begin in May 2023.

The largest in the Middle East, it has been forced to reorganise its fleet after cutting orders of the A380 superjumbo. It has a whopping 271 large aircraft, including 113 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 158 Boeing 777 planes.

It also confirmed an order for 30 Boeing 787s worth $8.8 billion at list prices, together with 126 larger 777Xs.

Over the last twelve months, the airline has carried close to 58 million passengers on around 186,000 flights.

Travelling more than 885 million kilometres around the globe to 159 destinations, new additions to the network included Bangkok (via Phnom Penh), the Portugese city of Porto and a new service to Mexico City via Barcelona.

The carrier ended the year with 26 codeshare partners and 156 interline partners in 200 countries, with new agreements with China Southern Airlines, Africa World Airlines, LATAM Airlines, SpiceJet and Interjet. Emirates and flydubai marked two years of partnership, carrying more than 6 million passengers.

Profit

In November the Emirates Group announced an 8 percent rise in half-year net profit to AED1.2 billion ($320 million) despite a fall in revenues due in part to the 45-day runway closure at Dubai International Airport.

Emirates airline carried 29.6 million passengers between April and September, down 2 percent from the same period last year but passenger yield increased by 1 percent while the volume of cargo uplifted at 1.2 million tonnes decreased by 8 percent while yield declined by 3 percent, reflecting the tough business environment for air freight in the context of global trade tensions and unrest in some key cargo markets.

Emirates' net profit was AED862 million ($235 million), up 282 percent, compared to last year while revenue of AED47.3 billion was down 3 percent.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO, Emirates Airline and Group said at the time: "The Emirates Group delivered a steady and positive performance in the first half of 2019-20, by adapting our strategies to navigate the tough trading conditions and social-political uncertainty in many markets around the world.

"Both Emirates and Dnata worked hard to minimise the impact of the planned runway renovations at DXB on our business and on our customers. We also kept a tight rein on controllable costs and continued to drive efficiency improvement, while ensuring that our resources were deployed nimbly to capitalise on areas of opportunity.

"The lower fuel cost was a welcome respite as we saw our fuel bill drop by AED2 billion compared to the same period last year. However, unfavourable currency movements wiped off approximately AED1.2 billion from our profits."

In a bid to concentrate on customer service, the airline spent $150 million refurbishing 10 Boeing 777-200LR aircraft; it boosted its inflight entertainment offering invested $27 million in inflight connectivity systems, such as Wi-Fi.

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