‘In a normal year, our profitable results would have been a superb achievement; in 2001/02, it is exceptional,’ said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the group chairman, in a statement.

‘The notoriously cyclical industry of ours was already at the bottom of the cycle at the beginning of September 2001. The horrors of 11 September plunged it into chaos.’

Emirates was able to weather the storm well. Airline passenger numbers grew by 18.3 per cent to 6.8 million, available seat kilometres increased by 19.7 per cent, while costs only increased by 13.6 per cent. However, there was a marginal decline in the airline’s seat factor which fell to 74.3 per cent from 75.1 per cent. Emirates SkyCargoincreased cargo tonnage by 19.5 per cent to 400,569 tonnes.

‘Our business suffered particularly badly from the perception that, despite the appalling evidence to the contrary, the nearer one is to Afghanistan, the greater the risk, and Dubai was falsely perceived as being very close. Traffic on most of our routes, especially our crucial European routes, fell drastically,’ said Maurice Flanagan, the group managing director, at the press conference at which the results were announced.

‘It is, therefore, satisfying to be able to report that the group more than recovered its equilibrium.’

Emirates airline raised its net profits by 11 per cent to AED 421.8 million ($115 million) and Dnata contributed a net income of AED 134.8 million ($37 million) to the group’s profits – a 23 per cent improvement on the previous year.

Dnata handled more than 13.8 million passengers – a 7.9 per cent increase – and 60,000 aircraft at Dubai International Airport last year.