As the Emirates Group announced its first year of loss in over 30 years due to a Covid-related drop in revenue, it was cargo that came to the rescue.
The Group posted a loss of US$ 6.0 billion for the financial year ended 31 March 2021 compared with a US$ 456 million profit last year. Its revenue was US$ 9.7 billion, a decline of 66% over last year’s results.
Emirates SkyCargo, however, put in a stellar performance by rapidly responding to new demand in a changed global marketplace, contributing to 60% of the airline’s total transport revenue.
The division quickly scaled up operations and rebuilt its cargo network to meet strong demand from shippers who faced a capacity crunch when the pandemic forced airlines to drastically reduce flights.
It supplemented its existing freighter capacity by bringing into service 19 "mini freighters" - modified Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft with seats in the economy cabin removed to make room for more cargo. The cargo division also introduced new loading protocols to safely utilise overhead bins and passenger seats to carry cargo.
In addition to supporting global supply chains for food, medical and other trade items, the cargo division also tapped into its pharma capabilities and infrastructure to support the worldwide distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and humanitarian relief to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Port of Beirut explosions.
With the strong demand in airfreight throughout the year, the division reported a revenue of US$ 4.7 billion, an increase of 53% over last year.
Freight yield per freight tonne kilometre (FTKM) increased strongly by 88%, due to the unique pandemic situation which led to significantly reduced cargo capacity in the market worldwide.