Emirates airline, which saw a 26 per cent increase in passenger numbers to 8.5 million, posted a 94 per cent increase in net income to AED 907 million ($247 million) in the fiscal year. Total revenues of AED 9,607 million ($2,617 million) were also boosted by a 31 per cent increase in cargo carried by its Skycargodivision. Emirates’ freight traffic increased to 525,788 tonnes for the year.

Fleet expansion and route expansion from its Dubai hub have helped lift the company’s revenue. The airline is investing heavily to acquire the next generation of 555-passenger A380 aircraft from European consortium Airbus Industrie. Negotiations are also ongoing with The Boeing Companyof the US for additional 777 aircraft to add to the airline’s existing fleet of 46 aircraft. Emirates plans to operate a fleet of 100 commercial aircraft by 2010 (MEED 16:11:03, Cover Story).

Keeping up the momentum on its fleet expansion programme will be essential if the airline is to service its growing network of routes. Last year the airline opened up new services into Japan, China, Europe and Australasia (MEED 28:2:03, Cover Story).

The acquisition of long-range 777s, A340-500s and A340-600s will also open up routes into the west coast of the US. Closer to its base in Dubai, Emirates is planning to start flights in the summer to Baghdad. ‘If the airport is open to us we could fly there as early as June,’ said chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum.

Dnata, which handles traffic at Dubai International Airport, also experienced strong growth. Net profits for the division were up 5 per cent to AED 142 million ($39 million) on earnings of AED 960 million ($261 million). The government of Dubai is investing heavily in boosting capacity at the airport, adding a third passenger terminal which is due to open in 2006. In return, Emirates was able to pay a dividend of $65 million back to its shareholder, the government of Dubai (Aerospace, MEED Special Report, 12:7:03, pages 26-28).