Emirates airlines, the largest Middle East carrier, said Thursday it posted a 43 percent surge in profit to $887 million last year as fuel costs dropped and passenger numbers rose.
Net profit in 2013 hit 3.3 billion dirhams ($887 million) compared to 2.3 billion dirhams ($622 million) the previous year, the company announced.
Fuel costs dropped by around four percent, Emirates chief Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told reporters, while passenger numbers increased 13 percent.
The carrier’s revenues increased 13 percent to 82.6 billion dirhams ($22.5 billion).
“It has been a good year,” sheikh Ahmed said.
The government-owned carrier transported a record 44.5 million passengers last year, compared to 39.4 million the previous year.
Emirates Group as a whole, which includes Dnata travel services, saw revenues rise 13.2 percent to 87.8 billion dirhams ($23.9 billion), with profit surging 31.6 percent to 4.1 billion dirhams ($1.1 billion).
The group will give a dividend of one billion dirhams ($280 million) to its indebted government “similar to the last financial year,” it said.
“We are moving into the new financial year with confidence and a strong foundation for continued profitability with our strong balance sheet, solid global portfolio and international talent pool,” sheikh Ahmed said in a company’s statement.
He said the carrier employed 52,512 people, 10 percent up from the previous year.
He also said the group as a whole invested the equivalent of $6 billion last year to upgrade services, including new aircraft and facilities.
“Every dirham invested has been carefully considered against short and long-term goals, be it enhancing our capabilities, improving our product, or expanding our business footprint,” he said.
Emirates market in East Asia and Australasia remained its highest revenue contributor, with $6.5 billion, 14 percent up from last year.
The Dubai-based airline leads Gulf major carriers in expanding their share on the route between the West and Asia and Australasia, triggering repeated complaints from legacy carriers which complain over a tough competition with the state-owned airlines.
Emirates, Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad have become popular carriers among travellers along these routes, turning their cities into major travel hubs.
The carrier operates from Dubai International Airport, the Middle East’s busiest airport which has shot up to rank as the world’s second largest airport for international travel after handling 66.4 million passengers in 2013.
But Emirates has said it forecast a revenue drop of around one billion dirhams this year due to a three-month closure of one of the airport’s two runways until the end of July for upgrade.
Emirates fleet also increased to 217 planes from 197 in 2012-2013.