Emirates Says Growth Plans Intact as U.S. Rivals Raise Pressure

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Emirates said it remains undeterred in its global growth ambitions and will use the delivery of 28 wide-body aircraft this year to sustain expansion that’s drawn the ire of rivals in Europe and the U.S., its fastest growing regions.

Efforts by the three biggest U.S. carriers to restrict Emirates’ growth won’t hold back the Dubai-based carrier from continuing to expand in America, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive officer of Emirates Group, said in a press conference today in Dubai, where the company reported a 40 percent increase in full-year profit.

Emirates is seeking to cement its status as the largest international airline, using its giant fleet of wide-body airliners and a near-record intake of new aircraft this year to expand its reach. The biggest U.S. carriers have accused the airline and its Gulf peers of receiving state subsidies, a charge they deny.

Pressure from U.S. competitors “will not stop us from what we’re doing,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “We are determined to do things other people can’t do.”

Emirates is expanding at its hub at Dubai International Airport this year, with an additional concourse set to open after the summer, more routes to be announced and the introduction of a new first-class cabin in the next 12 months. The Dubai-based airline is set to receive its second-highest number of plane deliveries this fiscal year and opens an average of eight to 12 new routes annually.

Europe was the biggest contributer to revenue in the fiscal year ended March 31, growing 7 percent to 25.2 billion dirhams ($6.9 billion) while the Americas, mainly U.S. routes, grew 20 percent to 11 billion dirhams, the airline said Thursday. Emirates has benefited from its geographic position at the crossroads of global flight paths that lets if funnel traffic through Dubai.

The airline’s full-year profit rose 40 percent to 4.6 billion dirhams, while sales rose 7 percent to 88.8 billion dirhams. It carried 49.3 million passengers in the year, an increase of 11 percent. Emirates, which did not hedge for the swing in oil prices, has benefited from the drop in fuel costs, while saying the stronger dollar and runway repairs at Dubai International weighed on the bottom line.

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