EMIRATES AIRLINES reports that it managed to keep profits relatively steady over the last financial year, although the carrier acknowledges that it has faced a "challenge" to stay in the black.

The airline ended the 1995/6 financial year to March with a profit of $22 million. That is a dip from close to $26 million in the previous year, but managing director Maurice Flanagan says that the airline has demonstrated its "-resilience and ability to remain in the black".

Emirates faced tough competition in key markets, while at the same time attempting to consolidate after a spell of breakneck growth since setting up just over a decade ago.

By comparison, arch rival Gulf Air revealed a $135 million loss for 1995, forcing the carrier into a radical corporate restructuring and a 20% cut in fleet capacity.

Although growth was slower by comparison with previous years, Emirates still achieved a 14% rise in passenger numbers, while pushing load factors above 70%. Cargo growth was even stronger, at 20%. Emirates says that cargo now makes up more than 15% of its sales and is forecast to grow to 17% over the coming year. Competition and continued growth affected yields, however, which fell overall by 3.4%. Flanagan says that the airline will keep up pressure on overheads

The Emirates Group ended the year with profits largely unchanged at $39 million, thanks to an improved performance by Dubai airport operator DNATA. Group sales were at $833 million.

Source: Flight International