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Emirates Reports Record Profits and Issues Bonuses for Employees

The Dubai-based airline will offer employees bonuses worth five months of their basic wage

by Lauren Smith

May 16, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

Emirates posted its second straight year of record-breaking profits and is set to give $1.1 billion to Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund owner. Additionally, the airline is rewarding its employees with bonuses equivalent to 20 weeks of salary.

The flag carrier of Dubai carried 51.9 million passengers in 2023, marking a 19 percent increase from 2022. The airline attributed this growth to a strong demand for travel across customer segments and low fuel costs. As a result, its revenue reached $33 billion, and profits soared to $4.7 billion, surpassing the $2.9 billion in profits from 2022.

“Throughout the year, we saw high demand for air transport and travel-related services around the world, and because we were able to move quickly to deliver what customers want, we achieved tremendous results,” chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said.

Emirates Cabin Refurbishing Campaign

Al Maktoum attributed the bumper takings to Emirates’ “years of non-stop investments in our products and services,” including an ongoing $2 billion revamp of its airline cabins.

The refurbishment program has now been expanded to 191 aircraft, up from the original 120. The nose-to-tail refreshes are adding premium economy cabins to Emirates’ Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, reconfiguring its business class seating and adding furnishings in a new color palette.

Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

By March 2024, 28 Emirates aircraft were equipped with premium economy seats, including on flights to New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and Houston (IAH). That month, Emirates offered 65,744 premium economy seats, more than triple the number for sale in March 2023.

But could Emirates be adding premium seats faster than it can sell them? The average load factor in its premium cabins, including premium economy, fell from 72.6 percent in 2022 to 69.4 percent last year. The airline’s overall load factor across 2023 was 79.9 percent.

The Dubai-based airline said seat factors for its premium and economy cabins “remained strong,” and it has received an “overwhelmingly positive response to its Premium Economy product.”

Photo: The newly refurbished Economy Class onboard the Airbus A380. Courtesy of Emirates.

In total, Emirates invested $2.4 billion in its services in 2023, including catering, cargo, ground handling capabilities, advanced technologies, sustainability initiatives, and employee training programs.

New Airbus A350s coming online

The airline also has ambitious plans for further expansion, enabled by its “excellent financial standing today,” Al Maktoum. Emirates has ordered 65 new A350-900s to beef up capacity in secondary cities. Ten of those jets will be delivered this year, with the first set to debut in September, with a “next generation” business class cabin.

According to the airline, the first A350 jets will be deployed on routes to the Middle East and Europe, starting in September.

Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

Its recent robust results have enabled Emirates to pay a $1.1 billion dividend to its shareholder, the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD).

The carrier will also pay its staff bonuses equivalent to five months of their basic wage. The profit-sharing offer is slightly less generous than last year when the airline offered bonuses equivalent to six months of wages.

Its recent growth means Emirates is employing more people than ever before. Its workforce numbered 112,406 last year, up 10 percent from 2022. The airline is also actively recruiting cabin crew.

“What is coming [for Emirates] will be more beautiful, greater and better,” Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed wrote on X.

To keep pace with Emirates’ expansion and the city-state’s burgeoning tourism economy, Dubai is already preparing to relocate its airport operations from the current Dubai International Airport (DXB) to a new mega-airport in its southern desert. Set to be operational within a decade, the new Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) could welcome up to 260 million travelers annually.