The Dubai-based Emirates airline could return to profitability in 2022, according to Tim Clark, the President of the airline. The head of the air carrier stated that only the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out could help the industry to recover from the stagnation caused by the pandemic-related air travel restrictions.
On November 19, 2020, in an interview with CNN, Clark outlined that after a nine-month-long period of implementing various sorts of globally-applicable protocols with an aim to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19, the aviation industry was still ailing. However, the head of the airline doubted that the term of the possible global distribution of the vaccine could happen from six up to nine months.
During the first quarter or even the first half of 2022, after the vaccine is distributed worldwide, Emirates expects to see a growth in the demand for air travel.
“I’m expecting, maybe I’m overoptimistic, but in all the years I’ve been in this business and led a business which is global in its reach and seeing how countries have responded to various crises, time and time again. Even with the big crisis, the big disruptions to the global economy, is its bounce back and that’s what I’m expecting”, Clark told CNN.
In November 2020, Emirates posted its first half-year loss in 30 years despite the Dubai government’s injection of $2 billion. The financial results showed that the airline’s cash reserves dwindled from AED25.6 billion ($7 billion) at the end of March 31, 2020, to AED 20.7 billion ($5.6 billion) as of September 30, 2020. Emirates lost 75% of its airline revenue and throughout the first six months of 2020, the carrier netted AED11.7 billion ($3.2 billion) from passenger and cargo operations, which resulted in an AED12.6 billion ($3.4 billion) loss.
Emirates fleet has also changed through the six month period of 2020. In November 2020, after noticing an increased demand for medical goods transportation, Emirates SkyCargo, the air freight division of Emirates, introduced its new mini-freighter with an optimized capacity to transport up to 50 tons of cargo per flight. Besides, the air carrier operates flights on its Boeing 777F, which can transport around 100 tons of cargo.
The company also uses Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft with removed seats from Economy Class for additional cargo volume. In total, ten of the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER jets were converted to carry cargo in the passenger cabin, while three aircraft departed its fleet. In total two Boeing 777s and one Airbus A380 have permanently left the Emirates fleet.
Preparing for future COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Emirates SkyCargo set up the world’s largest cargo hub in Dubai dedicated to the storage and distribution of the vaccine.