Emirates "cautiously optimistic" for full year results after record first half profits

The head of Emirates airline's Finance and IT division says advance bookings are "significantly up" for the final months of the fiscal year and he says he could fill the controversial A380 airliner "today, if we could have it."

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By  David Cass Published  November 26, 2002

The head of Emirates airline's Finance and IT division says advance bookings are "significantly up" for the final months of the fiscal year and he says he could fill the controversial A380 airliner "today, if we could have it."

Dermot Mannion says he is “cautiously optimistic” for the full year results, following a spectacular 140% increase in half year profits. The major factors, he says in a wide ranging interview with Arabian Business, are increased passenger numbers and load factors, a 32% increase in cargo, and the company's Mercator IT Division becoming a $20 million per-year income generator, rather than a cost centre.

Historically low inflation and interest rates are also helping keep costs down on aircraft purchases and new developments like the new dedicated Emirates terminal at Dubai International.

Mannion revealed, however, that plans for opening routes to the US have been delayed owing to late delivery of the Airbus A340. The industry rumour had been a start date in Spring 2003 but that is now more likely to be after September, owing to delays in manufacture.

He said, "I think the original schedule was June but that can’t happen now so we’re well into the third quarter and we’re assessing the overall position. The aircraft is still coming and we have great hopes for it. It’s the world’s longest range aircraft with the capability of going 17 hours non-stop from Dubai all the way to the west coast of the US, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver (in Canada) and so it’s a very capable piece of equipment and an important addition to the fleet.

He revealed that business is so vibrant on the Dubai/UK runs that he would take the controversial double-decked, 550 seater, Airbus A380 today if it were in production. Emirates, with the world's biggest order for the huge jet, is regarded by analysts to be taking a major gamble. “We don’t share at all any of the nervousness that there might have been from some other carriers about the size of the A380,” he says. “In fact, the Emirates view is that if we had the 380 today we would put it into service and we could use it profitably. At the kind of load factors that we’ve been operating at we could use that aircraft, all 550 seats, on London (routes) tomorrow, so the sooner we can get those aircraft the better.”

He is also aware of the bulding threat of a US-inspired war on Iraq but insists that the carrier is prepared. “During the (1991) Gulf War we had an emergency committee which sat every day, which made operational decisions as necessary on a daily basis. We had the distinction during that entire period of being the only airline in the region which operated its services internationally during every day of that period because we adjusted our plans as we needed to. I have no reason to believe that we wouldn’t respond to any future challenge any differently so we feel quietly confident, I think, that Emirates is ready, if needed to respond.”

The full article, with Mannion's interview and financial data, is in Arabian Business, out in the first week of December.

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