Dubai-based carrier Emirates airline has reported a net profit of $1.5bn (AED5.4bn) for the financial year ending 31 March 2011, a 51.9 per cent increase on the previous year.

In the 2009-10 financial year, Emirates achieved a net profit of $964m (MEED 12:5:11).

Emirates Group, the parent company of Emirates, recorded a net profit of $1.6bn, a 42.9 per cent rise on the previous year. The group used $500m of this to repay a bond listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange that matured on 24 March. Dnata achieved a net profit of $152.6m.

Despite a year of natural disasters, including a volcanic ash cloud and earthquakes and regional unrest, Emirates Group achieved revenues of $15.6bn, a 26.4 per cent rise on the previous year.

The group’s cash balance rose to $4.4bn, says Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and Group.

The airline still has 193 aircraft on order at a value of more than $66bn. Emirates expected to take delivery of 21 new aircraft in the 2011-12 financial year. The new aircraft include six Airbus A380s, 13 Boeing 777s and two freighters. The airline plans to have 169 aircraft in its fleet by 2012 and if it decides to place any further orders this year, Emirates will announce them at the Dubai Airshow in November.

A total of 31.4 million passengers flew with Emirates last year, a 14.5 per cent increase on the number of passengers that used the airline the previous year.

Emirates is also launching four new routes this year, including Geneva on 1 June, Copenhagen on 1 August and flights to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, both to start on 3 January 2012.