Re­gional tur­bu­lance ‘a chal­lenge’

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Veathika Jain @veathika

The chair­man of The Emi­rates Group has de­scribed the chal­lenges that con­flicts in the Mid­dle East pose to air­lines op­er­at­ing in the re­gion.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Mak­toum was speak­ing as the aviation hold­ing firm, which counts Emi­rates Air­line and ground ser­vices firm dnata among its sub­sidiaries, posted record fi­nan­cial fig­ures yes­ter­day, mak­ing more than Dhs8 bil­lion in profits for the first time.

Sheikh Ahmed said the firm’s per­for­mance is im­pres­sive given the chal­lenges.

He said: “Be it Paris, Brus­sels or Ye­men, geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions do af­fect our busi­ness.

“For ex­am­ple, our route to Sey­chelles or to an African des­ti­na­tion was changed be­cause of the clos­ing of Ye­men air space.

“We have to take a longer route, we can­not con­trol these sit­u­a­tions.

“To­day we fly to Beirut in three and a half hours - which is nor­mally a two hour and 45 minute flight. The ef­fect is cer­tainly there and we have to con­tinue to deal with it.”

Sheikh Ahmed said that com­pa­nies af­fected by the drop in oil prices have made cut­backs, which has had an im­pact on Emi­rates.

He said: “Our drop in rev­enue is due to the low oil prices and seat ca­pac­ity de­cline as com­pa­nies are down­siz­ing first and busi­ness class travel.”

Last year 11,000 new em­ploy­ees joined the group’s 80 com­pa­nies, bring­ing the staff fig­ure to 95,000.

Emi­rates flew 51.9 mil­lion pas­sen­gers last year. In 2016, 36 new air­crafts will be added to the fleet, 26 will be phased out.

Sheikh Ahmed con­tin­ued: “Emi­rates and Dnata are com­pet­ing on a global stage and can’t af­ford to be com­pla­cent, that’s why we in­vest in world-class fa­cil­i­ties, mod­ern air­crafts, im­prov­ing our prod­uct and de­vel­op­ing our peo­ple.

“At Dnata, we ex­pect to fully in­te­grate op­er­a­tions of our new ac­qui­si­tions through our part­ners at Am­s­ter­dam air­port... ground ser­vice in Brazil ac­quired in December 2015, Italy ground han­dling and in Amer­ica.”

NEW AR­RIVAL: An air­craft touches down in Bologna, Italy

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