Emirates Group said revenue and profit declined for the fiscal year ended March 31 due to coronavirus flight restrictions, the planned closure of a runway at Dubai International Airport and the strong U.S. dollar.
According to the Dubai-based carrier, revenue at its cargo division, SkyCargo, fell 14% from the previous year to $3.1 billion.
SkyCargo transported 2.4 million tons of freight during the fiscal year, a 10% drop that it blamed on the combination of retiring one of its 12 Boeing 777 freighters, a drop in bellyhold capacity due to the runway closure and overall market weakness.
Emirates, which includes a massive passenger services division and airport ground handler Dnata, recorded an overall fiscal year net profit of $456 million, a 28% decline from the previous year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will have a huge impact on our 2020-21 performance, with Emirates’ passenger operations temporarily suspended since 25 March,” warned Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive Ahmed bin Saeed in a statement.
“We continue to take aggressive cost management measures, and other necessary steps to safeguard our business, while planning for business resumption,” he said. “We expect it will take 18 months at least, before travel demand returns to a semblance of normality.”
Despite the financial toll from the recent international passenger travel restrictions, cargo transport has remained a bright spot for Emirates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of the first week in May, SkyCargo operated cargo flights to 67 global destinations. The airline said 58 of those flights were served by Boeing 777 passenger planes transporting only cargo. SkyCargo operated more than 2,500 cargo flights in April.
“Acting as a global conveyor belt for the transport of essential supplies including protective equipment, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and food, the air cargo carrier flew more than 1,650 flights on its Boeing 777-300ER passenger freighters and over 850 flights on its Boeing 777 freighters to over 80 destinations on scheduled and special charter services,” the airline said.
Emirates is owned by the Dubai government as part of the Investment Corp. of Dubai and as part of Dubai Inc.
The airline said it plans to continue investing in cargo services during fiscal year 2020-2021.
Last October, it started Emirates Delivers, an e-commerce service that helps small U.S. businesses consolidate online purchases for delivery to customers in the United Arab Emirates.
SkyCargo also enhanced its pharmaceutical transport services with the opening of new facilities in Chicago and Copenhagen.