For the first time in more than three decades, Emirates Airlines, the Middle East’s largest airline, reported an annual loss of 5.5 billion dollars, owing to airline closures caused by the coronavirus, which wreaked havoc on the aviation industry.
“As a result of the continuous restrictions on flights and travel due to the pandemic,” the Dubai-based company said in a statement on Tuesday, it “reported losses of 20.3 billion dirhams (5.5 billion dollars), compared to earnings of the previous year.”
The company’s last loss occurred in the 1987-1988 fiscal year, when it first began operations.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the massive corporation has been forced to reduce its extensive network of destinations and suspend flights for weeks last year, before resuming operations in mid-2021, with Dubai opening its doors to tourists and transforming the wealthy emirate into a major magnet for visitors fleeing the closures.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is still doing havoc on people’s lives, society, economies, and the aviation and tourism industries,” stated Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Emirates Group.
He added that his group had suffered “due to the reduced demand for international travel” after “the countries of the world closed their borders and imposed strict travel restrictions.”
The airline transported 6.6 million passengers, down 88% from the previous fiscal year.
The airline’s total revenue for the fiscal year fell by 66 percent to 30.9 billion dirhams (8.4 billion dollars).
The Emirates Group has had to lay off staff for the first time since its founding. The group’s overall workforce shrank by 31%, to 75,145 people representing more than 160 different countries.
Emirates Airlines is the largest Airbus 380 operator in the world. The company had previously stated that it would begin diversifying its fleet and purchasing smaller planes.
In light of the most diversified economy in the oil-rich Gulf area, the corporation is considered one of the most prominent triumphs of Dubai, which contains many entertainment sites and massive commercial areas and relies on tourism and the service sector. Last year, it attracted over 16 million visitors. This year, it aimed to attract 20 million tourists.
Following the suspension of flights, the emirate’s government granted financial assistance to the airline in the amount of around two billion dollars.