Emirates' $7.7 billion loss could have knock on effects in New Zealand

Four Emirates Airbus A380's at Auckland International Airport
Four Emirates Airbus A380's at Auckland International Airport Photo credit: Newshub (File)

Mega-airline Emirates has posted its biggest loss in the company's history as the financial impacts of COVID-19 extend further into global travel operators. 

The airline posted a NZ$7.7 billion loss for the last financial year, a huge drop from last year's NZ$404 million profit. It's the first financial loss for the 36-year-old airline since the 1987-88 fiscal year when it operated a fleet of just four aircraft.

Passenger numbers over the period dropped to 6.6 million, the lowest since 2003 when the airline flew 6.9 million people. Back then it had a fleet of 46 planes, now it has over 250.

The financial result has sparked rumours Emirates would lessen its presence in the New Zealand market, including sponsorship of sporting teams and events.

Speaking to media last night, the boss of Emirates Team New Zealand Grant Dalton said he was aware of rumours the airline wasn't going to renew its naming rights deal with the America's Cup team.

"We all know, that boy, that's not a great business to be in at the moment is airlines, and God knows how many A380s are sitting on the tarmac at the moment," he said.

Emirates told Newshub it has "no updates or statements" regarding any of its sponsorship deals in the country.

The financial loss comes down to the 66 percent drop in revenue to NZ$11.9 billion due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Airlines around the world have been given government assistance, Emirates included. In the last financial year, it received NZ$4.3 billion from the Dubai government.

Emirates has the same problem as Singapore Airlines and airlines based in Hong Kong, in that they have no domestic network to fall back on.

Due to a change in market demands, 19 of the airline's 146 Boeing 777s had the passenger cabin removed to make way for more cargo.

Despite being the flagship aircraft for the airline, most of its 113 Airbus A380s are grounded. 

Before the pandemic, Emirates flew daily into Auckland, and at one point operated four Airbus A380s into the city every day.

Currently there's no telling when the airline will get back to that many flights in and out of Aotearoa, or if it ever will.