Emirates Airline Suffers First Loss In More Than 30 Years

For the first time in three decades, Emirates has announced an annual loss of $5.5 billion following the devastating turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dubai-based carrier has reportedly received capital funding of $3.1 billion from the government, its owner, to help recover from the crisis.

Covid Impact

The airline, the largest in the Middle East, made a 1.1 billion dirhams ($288 million) profit in the last fiscal year, however the impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a loss of 20.3 billion dirhams ($5.5 billion) since March.

Emirates, like many other airlines, was forced to suspend operations in 2020, resulting in a staggering loss of $8.4 billion in revenue.

In the last financial year, the carrier transported just 6.6 million passengers, a massive drop of 88 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.

Strong Position To Recover

Founder and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the flight operator had been hit hard by the restrictions to international travel.

He acknowledged that recovery will be challenging, but that companies such as Emirates that entered the pandemic in a strong position will bounce back more easily.

Emirates announced heavy layoffs when its fleet was grounded during the pandemic. The company reduced its employee base by more than a third, making more than 30,000 employees redundant with just over 40,000 staff remaining.

The airline is currently operating flights in 157 destinations and 85 countries.

Following a strict lockdown at the start of the pandemic, life in Dubai has now largely returned to normal, with beaches, hotels and restaurants open to the public once again.

The UAE has begun an ambitious vaccination campaign with some of the highest immunisation rates in the world, and continues to observe social distancing and face mask rules.

Dubai’s tourism industry is a lucrative part of the city’s economy.

But Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad predict that passenger demand may not return to normal until 2023. Qatar Airways has suffered similar losses and has reportedly received $2.0 billion in state aid.