Emirates ­reverses profit drop with ­savings

Emirates unveiled a special tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates, with bespoke livery for its 100th Airbus A380. (Courtesy Emirates)
Updated 09 November 2017
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Emirates ­reverses profit drop with ­savings

LONDON: Emirates airline reversed a sharp decline in its financial performance in 2016, unveiling an 111 percent profits jump in the first half of 2017 to $452 million, off the back of a softer dollar and a cost-cutting drive that saw the parent company axe 3,000 jobs.
But there were still severe headwinds, indicated Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum — margins continued to face strong downward pressure from increased competition and rising oil prices, as well as “weak economic and uncertain political realities in many parts of the world.”
In its 2016/17 financial year, Emirates — the biggest airline in the Middle East — reported its first full-year profit decline for five years as subdued travel demand saw earnings plunge 82 percent. An inflated US currency, political and security issues, as well as airline overcapacity, were cited as factors behind the grim trading picture last year.
But in the first six months of 2017/18 to end-September, Emirates reported that its average passenger seat factor — a key metric for airlines which measures how many seats are filled on flights — rose to 77.2 percent, compared with last year’s 75.3 percent. The airline carried 29.2 million passengers between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2017, up 4 percent from the same period last year.
The airline said: “The easing of the strong US dollar against other major currencies helped our profitability. We are also seeing the benefit from various initiatives across the company to enhance our capability and efficiency with new technologies and new ways of working.”
In the past six months, employee numbers at Emirates Group — which includes its air freight and ground handling operations — reduced by 3 percent compared to March 31 2017, from an overall staff count of 105,746 to 102,669.
Airline employee numbers were cut from 64,768 to 63,039.
“This was largely a result of natural attrition together with a slower pace of recruitment, as various parts of the business adopted new technologies, streamlined business processes and re-allocated resources,” said Emirates.
Airline revenue of $12.1 billion was up 6 percent compared with $11.4 billion reported during the same period last year.
Emirates said it continued to invest in the most advanced wide-body aircraft to improve overall efficiency and provide better customer experience. During the first half, Emirates received 10 wide-body aircraft — four Airbus A380s, and six Boeing 777s, with nine more new aircraft scheduled to be delivered before the end of the financial year. It also retired five older aircraft from its fleet with further four to be returned by March 31, 2018.
Emirates launched two new passenger services to Zagreb (Croatia) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
As of Sept. 30, Emirates’ global network spanned 156 destinations in 84 countries. Its fleet stood at 264 aircraft including freighters.
In July, the airline announced a partnership with Flydubai, leveraging both airlines’ complementary networks to open new city-pair routings for customers, and optimize operations at Dubai International Airport. Emirates also announced it would extend its successful partnership with Qantas for a further five years that will offer travelers more flight choices to and from Australia and New Zealand.
Overall profit for dnata, Emirates’ airport handling and airlines services division, was up by 20 percent to $80 million. Across its operations, the number of aircraft handled by dnata increased by 11 percent to 330,317, and it handled 1.5 million tons of cargo, up 25 percent.
This reflected new customer contracts won across the network, and expansion to new locations such as Rio de Janeiro and Amsterdam (ground handling) as well as the overall upturn in global cargo volumes.


GITEX Tech showcases Saudi Arabia’s regional innovation drive

Updated 6 min 45 sec ago
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GITEX Tech showcases Saudi Arabia’s regional innovation drive

DUBAI: Dubai’s GITEX Technology week showcased the region’s ability to take the lead in innovation technology, with Saudi Arabia on its way to take the driver’s seat, according to consulting firm Accenture’s country managing director in Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia will be a leader in supporting innovation and the development of new technology in the region,” Khaled Al-Dhaher told Arab News.
“I think we (Arab countries) can always complement each other in the region to make sure we have the best innovation that is relevant for us and focused on the needs of our markets,” he added.
Among the main drivers behind the Kingdom’s surge into innovation and incubation is the Center of Initiatives at Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk), which is an exclusive partner at GITEX Future Stars 2018.
Misk Innovation showcased 20 Saudi-based start-ups and incubators, ranging from 3D printing technology (SHAKL) to e-commerce (Zid) to online grocery shopping (ZADFresh).
Another prominent player from the Kingdom was the Badir Program, which helps to sustain and develop pioneering environments within the Kingdom and stays in line with following the crown prince’s Vision 2030 plan.
The plan, unveiled in 2016, is a comprehensive blueprint for the future, laying out a strategy and clear targets to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.
“We see a big support toward start-ups in terms of seed funding, arranging funding rounds, investment funding rounds, which actually is very important to accelerate the growth of these start-ups,” Badir Program’s CEO Nawaf Al-Sahhaf told Arab News, adding: “They (start-ups) created more than 2,000 jobs in the last two years.”
The 38th annual exhibition, which kicked off on Sunday, centered around the rise of smart cities. Dubai’s government featured high-tech stands promoting the emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision of a totally smart Dubai.
While Dubai is ahead of Saudi Arabia in this respect, the latter is not far behind.
“Saudi Arabia is building new cities now, and one of them is NEOM. Smart cities needs smart solutions and smart products, so Saudi Arabia is a big supporter of entrepreneurs and the private sector in order to come up with these smart solutions,” Al-Sahhaf said.
“Saudi Arabia is moving in this [Smart] direction and we are in good hands,” he added.
The Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company, Taqania, was also featured at the exhibition. Owned by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, Taqania is one of Saudi Arabia’s main proponents in a non-oil dependent Kingdom aligned with Vision 2030, and invests in technology that contributes to the country’s economic diversification.
The exhibition is split among several categories including Gulf Comms & Mobility, Global Solution Providers, Smart Workplace & Smart Homes, Value-Added Distributors, Printing & Automation, Consumer Tech, Enterprise Software, Network & Security, Future Tech and IOT Big Cloud Data.
GITEX Technology week runs from Oct. 14 to 18, with GITEX Future Stars taking place from Oct. 14 to 17.