Emirates Airline plunged into a $5.5 billion annual loss — its first in more than three decades — after the coronavirus pandemic devastated the aviation industry.
The last time the airline reported a loss was in the 1987-88 financial year, when it was starting up its operations.
This is contained in the Emirates Group’s annual report 2020-21 released on Tuesday.
Emirates had suspended flight operations in March 2020 for about eight weeks following a temporary closure of airports in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The airline said its revenue dropped by 66 percent to $8.4 billion, while operating costs declined by 46 percent.
It said due to the outbreak, passenger capacity declined by 82.6 percent — the airline’s steepest decline ever — and also recorded a drop of 76.3 percent in passenger flights compared to the previous year.
“Without a shadow of doubt, and similar to industry trend, this was the most challenging year in Emirates’ operating history,” the report reads.
“It is the sheer duration and uncertainty surrounding the containment of the virus that had a severe impact on our operations this year.
“As a result, Emirates recorded a loss of AED 20.3bn ($5.5 billion) , its first in the last 33 years.
“The future also remains uncertain, with most analysts suggesting that it will take years to recover to pre-crisis levels.”
Also, the Dubai-based airline recorded heavy layoffs as it slashed employee’s base (inclusive of Dnata, its ground-handling, travel services and catering firm) by 30.8 percent to 75,145 employees.
The report further read that the airline received a capital injection of $3.1 billion from its ultimate shareholder, the government of Dubai, to help it survive the crisis; while Dnata received 800 million dirhams ($2.18 million) in relief.