The annual profit of the Emirates Group, which includes the Middle East's largest airline, rose nearly 43 percent despite rising fuel prices that cut into the bottom line, the group's head said Tuesday.
Although the gains are significant for the group dominated by the Emirates airline, they are far smaller than last year's nearly 250 percent net profit jump.
Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of the Dubai-based group which also includes a cargo unit and other services, said net profit in the year to the end of March rose to $1.6 billion, up just shy of a 43 percent increase.
He told reporters that rising fuel costs reduced the year-end figures, with the airline paying at least $200 million in the past four months in higher fuel charges.
Ahmed noted that the airline industry around the globe was rattled by a number of other factors, including the volcanic ash cloud in Europe, record snow fall in the U.S. and Britain, two destructive earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan and political turmoil in the Middle East.
But he said not all "was doom and gloom" because the global number of passengers grew about 8 percent in the past year.
At $1.5 billion, the Emirates airline accounts for most of the Dubai government-owned group's annual net profit. The profit of Dnata, the airline service and cargo wing, reached $152.6 million, making Dnata the world's fourth largest combined service provider, Ahmed said.
Emirates, the largest carrier in the Middle East, has been expanding its operations. It opened six new destinations in the past year, including Amsterdam and Prague, the holy Muslim city of Medina in Saudi Arabia and Basra, an oil-rich city in southern Iraq.