Emirates airline reports surge in annual profit, warns of coronavirus impact

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Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, reported a 21 percent rise in full-year profit on Sunday, but warned the outbreak of the new coronavirus hit its performance in the fourth quarter of the financial year.

The Dubai state carrier made 1.1 billion dirhams ($287.5 million) in the 12 months to March 31, compared to 871 million dirhams a year earlier.

Revenue contracted 6.1 percent to 92 billion dirham as the number of passengers carried fell 4.2 percent to 56.2 million.

Emirates blamed the drop in revenue on runway works at Dubai International airport last year, forcing the airline to reduce capacity for 45 days, and the coronavirus pandemic which has crushed travel demand.

The airline suspended regular, scheduled passengers flights in late March, though it has since operated some services for foreigners leaving the United Arab Emirates, while cargo flights continue to operate.

Emirates sister airport services company dnata saw profit drop by 57 percent to 618 million dirhams, which the company attributed to increased investment in its catering and airport services divisions and weak demand for the travel business.

Dnata’s profit would have been 72 percent lower had it not been for a one-time divestment, and the unit has started a review of its travel business which booked a 132 million dirham impairment.

Profit at Emirates Group, which counts Emirates airline and dnata among its assets, fell 28 percent to 1.7 billion dirham. Revenue was down 4.8 percent to 104 billion.

Unfavorable currency exchange rates cost the Group 1 billion in profit, it said, while it also saw some respite from cheaper oil prices.

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