Emirates expects to return to profit in ‘next 18 months’

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Aviation giant Emirates expects to return to profitability “in the next 18 months” as the sector bounces back from the COVID pandemic, its president Tim Clark said Tuesday.

The Dubai-based carrier said last week it was on the path to recovery as six-month losses dropped by more than half from a year earlier.

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“The profitability of Emirates is a well-known fact... We’ll restore that in the next 18 months, we’re already on path to do that,” Clark told reporters at the Dubai Air Show, the industry’s first large gathering since the pandemic.

“We were burning through $250 million a month. We stopped that. We’re now a growing business again.

“In the last four weeks, we’ve been profitable, even with 80 A380s on the ground.”

Emirates posted an April-September loss of $1.6 billion, compared with $3.4 billion during the same period in 2020.

Emirates specializes in long-haul flights, with its fleet solely composed of large A380 and B777 aircraft, dozens of which it grounded amid a lack of passenger traffic.

However, Clark said he was “fairly bullish” about the recovery.

“As soon as it comes back, you will have 18 months of resurgence of demand, the likes of which you’ve never seen,” he said.

Clark said that he expected global traffic to return to pre-crisis levels by 2023-2024, growing at about four percent every year after that.

But with many airlines having sold off their older aircraft or downsized their fleet to cut costs, “capacity will not be there in international airlines to meet that demand”, he said.

This is the “biggest problem going forward over the next five to 10 years.”

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