DUBAI, Jan 9 (AFP) -
Emirates airline is confident of achieving growth of 15-20 percent during the rest of the decade, the Dubai carrier's finance director said in comments published Wednesay.
"We are going to grow our fleet to 37 aircraft by March 2003 and to 92 aircraft by March 2010," Dermot Mannion told Gulf News.
"This means an annual average of seven to eight aircraft which does not represent a huge additional finanical burden.
"This will make the airline grow annually by 15-20 percent between now and 2009-2010," he said. "We are comfortable with that level of growth and we think it can be achieved."
The airline reported profits of 46 million dollars in the six months to September 30 and still expects to break even despite the global downturn worsened by the September 11 suicide hijackings in the United States.
"We still have the fourth quarter but we are cautiously optimistic that we can achieve a result close to break even," Mannion said.
The six-month profit compared with the 45 million dollars profit for the half-year ending September 30, 2000.
Group operating revenue of 915 million dollars recorded 14 percent growth compared to 808 million dollars over the same period of 2000.
Since Dubai founded the airline in 1985 it has built up a fleet of 36 aircraft flying to 56 cities in 39 countries.
Emirates registered a 20 percent jump in passengers in 2000 to 5.7 million, with a 24 percent increase in cargo to 335,194 tonnes. That provided record profits of 85 million dollars.
In November Emirates announced orders for 22 giant double-decker Airbus A380 aircraft and options for 10 more at a cost of seven billion dollars. Delivery was due to start from 2006.
The airline also ordered three A330 Airbuses worth 450 million dollars and signed a letter of intent for eight of the larger A340-600 Airbuses worth one billion dollars.
Letters of intent have also been signed to buy 25 US Boeing 777 jets for 6. 6 billion dollars, to be delivered between 2004 and 2010.
"It is still early to make any massive financial commitment now for the Airbus-Boeing orders," Mannion said.
"We will determine when we think the time is right to go into the market. Our purchase commitment is firm, but the Boeing deal structure is not yet finalised," he added.