Continued low-level demand for air travel, despite the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, has led Dubai-based Emirates to admit that a further round of funding may be required later in the year, most likely through a further injection of equity from the Dubai government, the Gulf carrier’s sole shareholder.
Talking to the online World Aviation Festival, Tim Clark, Emirates’ president, commented: “We are good for another six, seven or eight months in terms of cash. We have sufficient cash coming in to be able to keep the day-to-day operation at a neutral basis,” adding: “But like everybody else, if in six months global demand is where it is today then we are all going to face difficulties. Not just Emirates”.
The carrier lost US$3.4 billion in the year’s first half, while it managed to obtain US$2 billion in equity from the Dubai government in 2020. While he would not say when, Clark also advised that Emirates would make a recommendation to the government on raising cash, which would likely come in the form of an equity injection or raising debt. However, Clark was also confident that should demand pick up, by September/October the cash situation could be turned round.
Emirates has resumed flights with all 151 Boeing 777 jets which mainly carry cargo, along with 20,000 to 30,000 passengers daily. He indicated that Emirates may retain some of its older 777 passenger jets that are due to retire but convert them into cargo-only planes while freight demand remains high. Clark had intended to retire in 2020 but has remained at the helm to guide the carrier through the pandemic and to set it on its future course before he retires, though he has not given a projected date when.