Emirates airline 2014 net profit up 40 percent on lower oil price

DUBAI (Reuters) - Emirates [EMIRA.UL], Dubai’s flagship airline, reported a 40 percent jump in annual net profit on Thursday, aided by savings from lower oil prices.

An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EOF, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Louis Nastro

The airline, one of the world’s largest carriers of international passengers, posted a profit of 4.6 billion dirhams (1 billion pounds) for the financial year to March 31, chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told a news conference.

The latest bumper profit increase from the carrier comes after a coalition of United States’ airlines and their labour unions accused Gulf rivals of receiving more than $40 billion in unfair subsidies -- charges dismissed as false by all the carriers including Emirates.

Sheikh Ahmed said lower oil prices had saved the airline around 2 billion dirhams during the financial year, with fuel constituting 35 percent of operating costs against 39 percent in the previous 12 months.

Revenue also increased 7 percent year on year to 88.8 billion dirhams.

These helped offset 1.7 billion dirhams of lost revenue from runway maintenance work at its Dubai International Airport hub, which lasted for 80 days started May 1.

It also made up for the impact of the strong dollar, which cost the company 1.5 billion dirhams

The world’s biggest customer of the Airbus A380 superjumbo said profit for the wider Emirates Group, which includes airline services arm Dnata, rose 34 percent to 5.5 billion dirhams.

This was driven by a 10 percent year on year increase in revenue to 96.5 billion dirhams.

Seat occupancy, or seat factor, averaged 79.6 percent, Sheikh Ahmed said, up from 79.4 percent in the prior year.

Emirates paid a dividend of 2.6 billion dirhams to Investment Corporation of Dubai, the state investment vehicle which owns the airline and stakes in a host of Dubai companies. It paid around 1 billion dirhams for the 2013 financial year.

Reporting by Matt Smith; Writing by David French; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Keith Weir