Dubai: Emirates airline, the Arab world’s largest carrier, said it expected passenger and cargo volumes to rise this year and would order more aircraft after posting a five-fold increase in full-year profit.
Middle Eastern carriers had the biggest increase in passenger demand among their peers in March, with a rise of 25.9%, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said last month. “The group will continue to achieve double digit growth through 2010-2011,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Emirates chairman and chief executive, told reporters.
The airline, which has $55 billion in orders with Airbus and Boeing, said it would take delivery of seven additional A380s and one Boeing 777 in 2010-2011.
Sheikh Ahmed said the airline planned to announce new aircraft orders, likely at the Farnborough airshow in southern England, and was in talks with both manufacturers. The show, a traditional venue for aircraft orders to be announced, will run from 19 tp 25 July.
Financing for the new purchases was secure, Sheikh Ahmed said.
“We have a good number of financial institutions queuing up to finance deliveries for this year. We don’t have any problem,” he said.
The Dubai government-owned airline, the largest customer for the Airbus A380 super jumbo, said last month it planned to expand its fleet and was ready to launch an initial public offering whenever the Dubai government gave it a green light.
“Emirates has significant expansion plans which should continue to drive passenger growth,” said Abid Riaz, director of research at EFG-Hermes in Dubai.
The carrier said it made a net profit of 3.5 billion dirhams ($952.9 million) in the year ended 31 March, up from 686 million dirhams in the prior year.
Revenue inched up 0.4% to 43.5 billion dirhams, with cargo volumes revenue declining 8.1%.
The carrier, which started in 1985 with two planes, has grown to rival airlines such as Qantas Airways and Singapore Airlines for passenger traffic between Europe and East Asia.
Airlines in the Middle East saw the highest growth rate, 11.2%, in air passenger traffic for 2009, IATA said. Their peers in other parts of the world are expected to post a total losses of $2.8 billion in 2010, it said.
Sheikh Ahmed also said the carrier would be willing to sell a stake in state-controlled SriLankan Airlines “at the right price.”
In 2008, after opting not to renew a management contract for SriLankan Airlines, Emirates said it was looking to sell all or part of its 43.6% stake in the carrier, a holding which had previously been valued at about $150 million.
The carrier said in February it had been approached by the Sri Lankan government for the stake.