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Emirates airline announces 'significantly' lower $1.1 bn annual loss

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Emirates airline announced a "significantly reduced" annual loss of $1.1 billion dollars (AFP/GIUSEPPE CACACE) (GIUSEPPE CACACE)

Emirates airline announced a "significantly reduced" annual loss of $1.1 billion dollars on Friday, five times lower than a year before, as pandemic travel restrictions ease.

Losses came in at 3.9 billion dirhams ($1.1 billion) in the 2021-2022 financial year to March, with revenues up 91 percent, as the airline expanded its global capacity and reinstated flights, Emirates said in a statement.

The Middle East's largest carrier said it received a capital injection of $954 million from its owner, the government of Dubai, to help it survive the crisis.

"This year, we focussed on restoring our operations quickly and safely wherever pandemic-related restrictions eased across our markets," said its chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.

"Business recovery picked up pace particularly in the second half of the year. Robust customer demand drove a huge improvement in our financial performance compared to our unprecedented losses of last year and we built up our strong cash balance."

In Friday's statement, it said the Emirates Group -- which includes ground-handling firm Dnata -- recorded an annual loss of 3.8 billion dirhams ($1.0 billion), but with revenues up by 86 percent and "strong customer demand".

Over the fiscal year, Emirates carried 19.6 million passengers, up from 6.6 million in the same period of the previous year.

"2021-22 was also a significant year as the UAE marked its 50th anniversary and hosted the world at Expo 2020 Dubai which generated increased global engagement and visitation to the UAE," Sheikh Ahmed said.

- 'Recalled and rehired' -

In the previous year, Emirates posted a $5.5 billion annual loss, its first in more than three decades, after the pandemic devastated the aviation industry.

Like many other major airlines, it announced heavy layoffs when its fleet was grounded.

In Friday's statement, it said that as operations ramped up, "employees previously on furlough or made redundant were recalled and rehired, and new recruitment drives were held".

The group's total workforce increased by 13 percent to 85,219 employees, it added.

Emirates specialises in long-haul flights, with its fleet solely composed of large Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft, dozens of which it grounded amid a lack of passenger traffic.

It added that the group invested $2.2 billion in new aircraft and facilities and received its final five new A380 plane during the financial year.

Emirates is currently flying to 140 destinations, almost its full travel network of 158 destinations in 85 countries before the pandemic.

Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed more than 16 million visitors in 2019. Before the pandemic, the aim had been to reach 20 million.

After an initial strict lockdown, life in the Gulf emirate -- one of the first destinations to welcome visitors again in July 2020 -- has returned to largely normal, with restaurants and hotels up and running and beaches open to the public.

The United Arab Emirates, made up of seven emirates including Dubai, has launched an energetic vaccination drive with some of the highest inoculation rates worldwide.

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