Dubai-based Emirates airline on Tuesday posted a $5.5 billion annual loss, its first in more than three decades, after the coronavirus pandemic devastated the aviation industry.
“Due to ongoing pandemic-related flight and travel restrictions, the airline reported a loss of 20.3 billion dirhams ($5.5 billion) after last year’s 1.1 billion dirhams ($288 million) profit,” Emirates airline said in a statement.
The airline, which was forced to temporarily suspend operations last year, saw revenue fall 66 percent to $8.4 billion.
Over the fiscal year, which ends in March, Emirates carried 6.6 million passengers, down 88 percent from the same period in the previous year.
“In 2020-21, Emirates and dnata were hit hard by the drop in demand for international air travel as countries closed their borders and imposed stringent travel restrictions,” the airline’s chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum revealed in a statement.
He noted that the group’s top priorities throughout the year were: the health and wellbeing of its people and customers, preserving cash and controlling costs, and restoring the airlines operations safely and sustainably.
“Emirates received a capital injection of AED 11.3 billion (US$ 3.1 billion) from our ultimate shareholder, the Government of Dubai, and dnata tapped on various industry support programmes and availed a total relief of nearly AED 800 million in 2020-21,” he said.
This he said, helped the airline sustain operations and retain the vast majority of their talent pool.
“Unfortunately, we still had to make the difficult decision to resize our workforce in line with reduced operational requirements,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
According to the airline group chairman, no one knows when the pandemic will be over, but the group knows that recovery will be patchy.
“Economies and companies that entered pandemic times in a strong position, will be better placed to bounce back,” he said, adding that in the year ahead, the airline will continue to adopt an agile approach in responding to the dynamic marketplace.
“We aim to recover to our full operating capacity as quickly as possible to serve our customers, and to continue contributing to the rebuilding of economies and communities impacted by the pandemic,” he said.