The Emirates Group has posted a record profit increase of 248 percent, an outstanding result in a year fraught with worldwide market instability and economic uncertainty.

emiratesThe 2009-10 Annual Report of the Emirates Group – comprising Emirates Airline, Dnata and their subsidiary companies – was released in Dubai at a news conference hosted by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

Sheikh Ahmed said: “It has been an exceptional year of continued profitability against a backdrop of the worst global recession in generations. The first half of the financial year however, was extremely challenging as the world continued to grapple with the economic crisis. Our pioneering spirit and ability to adapt in adverse conditions helped us to push through this harsh economic climate with an extremely strong performance in the latter part of the year.”

In a difficult year the Group’s net profits increased 248 percent to AED 4.2 billion (US$ 1.1 billion) for the financial year ended 31st March 2010. Group revenue remained stable at AED 45.4 billion (US$ 12.4 billion) reflecting lower passenger and cargo yields offset by increased traffic. The Group profit margin improved to 9.1 percent from 2.6 percent a year earlier.

The Group’s cash balance grew to AED 12.5 billion (US$ 3.4 billion) at the end of March, a remarkable improvement of 43.3 percent or AED 3.8 billion (US$ 1 billion) against the previous year. This excellent result is also after AED 3.4 billion (US$ 931 million) of investments mainly in new aircraft, other aircraft related equipment and dedicated lounges.

The Group’s outstanding performance this year, in some of the toughest operating conditions ever faced, reflects its success in maintaining its business as usual approach, remaining true to its strategy of product and service excellence. This is illustrated by the 27.5 million passengers who flew with Emirates in the latest financial year, 4.7 million more than in the previous year; as well as the expansion of Dnata’s international ground handling operations to 20 airports in nine countries.

Emirates Airline’s revenues remained stable at AED 43.5 billion ($US 11.8 billion), an increase of 0.4 percent from the previous year. Airline profits of AED 3.5 billion (US$ 964 million) marked an increase of 416 percent over 2008-09’s profits of AED 686 million (US$ 187 million).

Despite a 16.9 percent capacity increase during 2009-10 to 28,526 million ATKM (Available Tonne Kilometres), the Emirates’ operating costs in total decreased by 2.7 percent compared with the previous year. This results in a significant unit cost improvement of 16.6 percent and impressive productivity gain per employee, as the average airline employee strength has only increased by 2.3 percent.

Fuel costs in 2009-10 were significantly lower than the previous year by a notable AED 2.5 billion (US$ 691 million), accounting for 29.9 percent of total operating costs, down from 35.2 percent the previous year. The major reason for the reduction in overall fuel costs was the result of a 30.8 percent reduction in average fuel jet cost per US gallon.

In 2009-10, the airline’s passenger fleet expanded with the delivery of 15 new aircraft, four Airbus A380’s, 10 Boeing 777-300ERs and one Boeing 777 freighter. At the end of the financial year Emirates’ fleet reached 142 aircraft including four freighters. During the year Emirates became the largest Boeing 777 operator when it took delivery of its 78th B777 aircraft. The current fleet of all wide-bodied aircraft has an average age of 69 months – one of the youngest commercial fleet in the skies.

At the end of the year, the total number of aircraft on Emirates’ order book, excluding options, was 146 aircraft, worth over US $ 48 billion.

It was a difficult year for the Destination and Leisure Management (DLM) division of Emirates Airline, with package sales of AED 1 billion (US$ 272 million).

Emirates Holidays managed 165,000 total room nights booked during the year, a decrease on last year’s numbers, as customers opted for shorter breaks due to the tough economic conditions. Arabian Adventures, the region’s leading destination management company, opened its state-of-the-art Operations Centre in Dubai, a key investment in its long-term growth strategy. Congress Solutions International continued to win major global summits, including the organisation of the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda 2009, bringing together 700 VIP delegates from 90 countries.

The financial year also marked the opening of Emirates Hotels & Resorts conservation- based Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia’s Blue Mountains. It is the first hotel in the world to achieve carbon neutral certification and reflects DLM’s strategy of focusing on environmental and sustainable properties.

Dnata managed to hold ground during an incredibly challenging year achieving its highest ever profit in its 50 year history. Profits increased by 20.9 percent to reach a record AED 613 million (US$ 167 million) despite an intensely tough business climate for airport and cargo operations. Revenue remained stable with a marginal drop of 0.7 percent to AED 3.2 billion (US$ 861 million).

Dnata’s operating costs were 4.2 percent or AED 113 million (US$ 31 million) lower compared with the previous year based on major cost saving initiatives across all business segments.

Dnata Airport Operations started the 2009-10 financial year with a complete restructure, moving from a location-based organisation to a function based organisation. This was a defining initiative and enabled Airport Operations to grow, improving both productivity and profitability.

Dnata continues to play a major role in the Group’s growth by handling worldwide a record 192,120 aircraft (up 8.2 percent on last year) and 1,121 thousand tonnes of cargo, (up 11.8 percent over the previous year).

During 2009-10, Dnata International continued to expand its ground handling operations to bring its reach to 20 airports in nine countries. With the addition of London , Manchester and Erbil (Iraq) Dnata’s ground handling activities have increased by 45 percent with 26.9 percent of the company’s revenue from airport operations and cargo handling services coming from outside Dubai.

Dnata was the only company in the global ground handling sector to undertake a major acquisition in 2009 with the acquisition of two of the UK’s leading airport operations – Plane Handling which provides ramp and cargo handling services at Heathrow Airport as well as Cargo handling services at Manchester airport and Aviance which provides passenger and ramp handling operations at Heathrow’s Terminals 3 and 4. With these two new acquisitions Dnata’s international operations now handle as many aircraft turns and as much cargo volume as Dubai.

It was an incredibly tough year for Dnata Travel Services (DTS) with many people across the globe simply not travelling due to the recession. One of the more positive moments for DTS during the year was being honoured as the “World’s Leading Travel Management Company” at the 2009 World Travel Awards.

As of 31st March 2010, the Group and its subsidiaries employed 50,000 staff, representing 150 different nationalities. The full 2009-10 Annual Report of the Emirates Group – comprising Emirates Airline, Dnata and their subsidiary companies – is available on www.theemiratesgroup.com.