- Emirates carried 1.7 per cent fewer passengers in 2019 tha the year before
- Much of the blame placed on a 45-day runway closure at Dubai International Airport
- The airline served up 3 million meals on its flights from Dubai last year
- Expecting a bumper year with the six-month-long Dubai Expo 2020
On the eve of the new year, Emirates yesterday announced that it had carried close to 58 million passengers in the 12-months from January to December 2019. The numbers are down by one million passengers on the previous year despite an improved load factor and several new route openings, including Emirates’ controversial entrance into Mexico City via Barcelona.
With just hours before Dubai celebrated the advent of the new decade, the airline revealed it had operated over 3,500 flights every week, served nearly 63 million meals on flights departing Dubai and handled in excess of 35 million pieces of baggage at its hub alone last year.
Despite the 1.7 per cent drop in passenger numbers, Emirates remains the worlds largest international airline in terms of the numbers of passengers carried. The airline now serves 159 destinations across six continents and added three new passenger routes including a direct service to Porto, Portugal.
In addition, the carrier said it had also increased flights frequencies or upgraded capacity on 12-routes across its network, including introducing a double-daily Airbus A380 service to Muscat, Oman – a mere 340-kilometre flight that is so short that it actually takes longer to clean the plane during the turnaround in Muscat.
“This was a year of recalibration in terms of our fleet and network plan,” explained Sir Tim Clark – the President of Emirates who recently announced he would be retiring in June after 35-years.
Sir Tim said the change in direction for Emirates had become necessary when it became clear that European aircraft manufacturer Airbus would pull the plug on its A380 programme.
Emirates laid the blame for such a steep drop in passenger numbers on a 45-day closure of one of two runways at Dubai International Airport in April and May 2019. The Southern Runway Refurbishment Programme had been planned for some time and Emirates had been expecting to take a knock despite what Sir Tim described as the airline’s “dynamic approach to capacity deployment”.
During the peak of the runway closure, Emirates grounded up to 48 aircraft and trimmed its flight programme by as much as 25 per cent.
Dubai International Airport said the complete closure of the Southern Runway was “absolutely necessary” and that the work had been planned at a quieter time in the year. Several airlines were forced to temporarily move their operations to Dubai World Central airport during the closure, while others upgraded aircraft and cut frequencies to the city.
Emirates is hoping to receive a significant boost as Dubai prepares to hold Expo 2020 in the emirate – the first time a world Expo has ever been held in the Arab world. Dubai has invested billions of dollars into the six-month event and officials hope to welcome 25 million international visitors – Emirates is the official airline of the Expo.
In 2019, as Emirates came to the realisation that it couldn’t save the Airbus A380 order, the airline placed firm orders for several different jets that will make the carrier’s fleet much more diverse than at present. At the Dubai Air Show, the airline announced an order for 50 Airbus A350-900 aircraft and confirmed a full purchase agreement for 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft.