NEW YORK (CNBC) - Dubai’s Emirates Airline narrowed its losses to $1.1 billion in the year to March, even as soaring jet fuel costs threaten to overshadow a recovery in travel demand.
The world’s largest long haul carrier said revenue jumped 91% to $16.1 billion dollars, as travel lockdowns eased and the airline added capacity. Emirates posted a $5.5 billion loss in the previous year.
“2021-22 was largely about recovery, after the toughest year in our Group’s history,” Emirates Group Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.
“We expect the Group to return to profitability in 2022-23, and are working hard to hit our targets, while keeping a close watch on headwinds such as high fuel prices, inflation, new COVID-19 variants, and political and economic uncertainty.”
The airline had resumed flights to 140 destinations by the end of March, but the surge in fuel prices — up more than 50% so far this year — continues to challenge the pandemic-battered aviation sector. Emirates said its fuel bill more than doubled to $3.8 billion dollars as the price of oil and jet fuel soared in recent quarters.
“It’s very difficult to establish where that price will stop, or how far it might go down,” Sheikh Ahmed told CNBC in an interview when asked about the price of fuel. “That’s really affecting the airline business in a big way,” he added, saying geopolitics and Russia-Ukraine crisis was having a significant impact on fuel prices.
Emirates said fuel accounted for 23% of operating costs over the year, compared to just 14% in 2020-21.