DUBAI - Emirates Airline, the largest carrier in the Middle East, on Thursday reported a 282-percent rise in half-year net profits, mainly thanks to a drop in operating costs and fuel prices.
The result was a change of fortunes for the Dubai carrier, which for the full-year to the end of March took a heavy hit from high oil prices and currency fluctuations.
The carrier said it posted a net profit of $235 million in the first six months of the current financial year compared to just $62 million in the same period last year.
The airline attributed the soaring profits to a sharp drop in the cost of fuel which accounts for almost a third of company spending.
An eight-percent drop in operating costs and a rise in the number of passengers per flight also contributed to the healthy results.
"The lower fuel cost was a welcome respite as we saw our fuel bill drop by AED 2.0 billion ($545 million) compared to the same period last year," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, said in a statement.
"However, unfavourable currency movements wiped off approximately AED 1.2 billion ($327 million) from our profits," Sheikh Ahmed said.
On average, fuel costs were 13 percent lower compared to the same period last year, the airline said.
In the last full year, Emirates' net profit dived 69 percent to just $237 million due to high oil prices and currency fluctuations.
"The global outlook is difficult to predict, but we expect the airline and travel industry to continue facing headwinds over the next six months with stiff competition adding downward pressure on margins," Sheikh Ahmed said.
The airline said its revenue in the April to September period dropped three percent to $12.9 billion compared to $13.3 billion in the same period last year.
Emirates carried 29.6 million passengers in the six-month period, down two percent.
The airline serves a global network spanning over 158 destinations in 84 countries. Its fleet stands at 267 large aircraft, including over more than 100 Airbus 380 superjumbos.