Emirates Records $1.6bn Loss for First-Half of 2021, Airline Slowly Recovering

Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Emirates has today announced it recorded a $1.6bn loss in the first half of this year (1H21), due to the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this number is not as bad as it may convey.

This figure is a reduction compared to the $3.4bn loss recorded in the same period last year.

Such losses have been minimized as a result of a 86% spike in revenue of $5.9 billion.

Highlights of 1H21

During 1H21, Emirates has taken delivery of two new Airbus A380 aircraft, which has resulted in the retirement of two older aircraft from the fleet.

BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The airline’s high spike in revenue has been attributed to the agile movement taken in the first six months of the year, especially through the launch of services to Miami as well as codesharing arrangements with the following airlines:

  • Airlink
  • Aeromar
  • Azul
  • Cemair
  • South African Airways
  • And more!

By September 30, the airline was operating both passenger and cargo services to 139 airports across the globe, using its entire Boeing 777 fleet and 37 A380s.

The Important Numbers

On the cargo front, the overall capacity of Available Tonne Kilometres (ATKM) grew by 66.3% to 16.3 billion, with Available Seat Kilometres (ASKM) on the passenger perspective tripling (Representing a 250% increase.

RHL Images from England, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKM) grew 335%, meaning the airline was able to produce an overall passenger seat factor of 47.9%, which is nearly 10% better than last year’s figure of 38.6%.

Between April 1-September 30, the airline handled around 6.1 million passengers, which is a 319% increase compared to the same period last year.

The volume of cargo increased to 1.1 million tonnes, which represented a 39% increase.

However, Emirates’ operating costs increased by around 22% against overall capacity growth of 66%, with fuel costs more than double, due to an 81% higher fuel uplift in line with substantially increased flight operations.

Al Maktoum Remains Confident

Whilst some of the numbers are negative and some are positive, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the airline HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum gave some insight into his confidence surrounding the airline’s recovery:

“As we began our 2021-22 financial year, COVID-19 vaccination programs were being rolled out at unprecedented scale around the world. Across the Group, we saw operations and demand pick up as countries started to ease travel restrictions.”

“This momentum accelerated over the summer and continues to grow steadily into the winter season and beyond.”

Arpingstone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Our cargo transport and handling businesses continued to perform strongly, providing the bedrock upon which we were able to quickly reinstate passenger services. While there’s still some way to go before we restore our operations to pre-pandemic levels and return to profitability, we are well on the recovery path with healthy revenue and a solid cash balance at the end of our first half of 2021-22.”

“We would like to thank our customers for their continued support, as well as all our aviation and travel industry stakeholders and partners for their efforts that have made it possible for international air travel to resume safely and smoothly.”

“Our ability to pivot and pull through the toughest period in our history to date can be attributed to Emirates’ and dnata’s strong brands, high-quality products and services, digital and innovation capabilities, and our amazing people.”

“We intend to continue investing in these core areas to take our business into the future, together with the leaner processes and new technology capabilities that we’ve implemented in the past months.”

The Months Ahead…

Emirates seems to be on a full-blown charge ahead, both in the short and long-term, as the theme of recovery continues, and will continue to do so for a few years yet.

The airline is still on track to launch daily flights to Tel Aviv by December 6 and has reinstated daily flights to Sydney earlier this month (With the airline upgrading equipment to the A380 from the B777 from December 1).

On top of this, the airline is also seeking to recruit over 6,000 operational staff over the next six months in order to accommodate the accelerated recovery that is taking place due to the loosening of restrictions by governments around the world.

All eyes will of course be on Emirates over the next couple of months, especially in the doubling down of the A380 program by Sir Tim Clark, who believes that the aircraft is going to be paramount in the carrier’s success going into the future.


  • Emirates (2021), Emirates to recruit 6,000 operational staff over next six months to support accelerated recovery, https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-to-recruit-6000-operational-staff-over-next-six-months-to-support-accelerated-recovery/ [Last Accessed 10/11/21]
  • Emirates (2021), Emirates Group announces half-year performance for 2021-22, https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-group-announces-half-year-performance-for-2021-22/ [Last Accessed 10/11/21]
  • Emirates (2021), Emirates reaffirms commitment to Australia with increased frequency and boosted capacity to meet demand for travel, https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-reaffirms-commitment-to-australia-with-increased-frequency-and-boosted-capacity-to-meet-demand-for-travel/ [Last Accessed 10/11/21]
  • Emirates (2021), Emirates launches daily flights to Tel Aviv from 6 December, https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-launches-daily-flights-to-tel-aviv-from-6-december/ [Last Accessed 10/11/21]
  • Sam Chui (2021), The Future of Emirates Airline – Big Interview with President Sir Tim Clark, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-DJhxsumk0 [Last Accessed 10/11/21]

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