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Emirates’ record dividend lifts total paid to Dubai past $6.5bn

Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum hailed the group's "solid partnerships across the aviation and travel ecosystem" Reuters/Satish Kumar
Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum hailed the group's 'solid partnerships across the aviation and travel ecosystem'
  • Investment Corporation of Dubai received $1.2bn for 2022-23
  • Airline has paid dividends to its owner in 28 of past 34 years
  • More than 50% of total came in past decade, despite pandemic

The record AED4.5 billion ($1.2 billion) dividend paid by Emirates Group for 2022-23 has pushed the Dubai government’s total earnings from its flagship airline past $6.5 billion.

The group’s annual report released last week showed that over the past 34 years, it has paid 28 dividends to its owner – the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund. No dividend was paid in six years, including three during the Covid pandemic.

Last year’s dividend represented almost 19 percent of the total paid since 1989-90. It was AED1.9 billion – 75 percent – higher than the previous record of AED2.57 billion, set in 2014-15.

Figures are not available for the first few years after the airline’s founding in 1985, but any dividends paid in that period are not thought to have been significant.

The 2022-23 dividend is 6.3 times the annual average, which stands at AED708 million.

Before the record payout, Emirates last paid a dividend in 2018-19, the last full year before the pandemic. It was AED500 million. 

Despite the Covid shutdowns, more than half (54 percent) of the total paid since 1989-90 has come in the past 10 years. This illustrates the growth of the group’s two key businesses – the airline and dnata, its travel services and ground handling company – and the rapid reactivation of its network after the pandemic.

Group profit hit an all-time high of AED10.9 billion in 2022-23, with AED10.6 billion contributed by the airline and AED331 million by dnata.

Group chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said this reflected "the strength of our proven business model, our careful forward planning, the hard work of all our employees and our solid partnerships across the aviation and travel ecosystem".  

The vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, described Emirates Group as a key contributor to the city and the UAE and air transport as a critical enabler of growth, in his foreword to the company's latest report.

“This is why we have focused on raising our strategic investments in this sector and creating one of the aviation industry’s biggest hubs,” he wrote. "Over the next decade, as Dubai seeks to expand its economic footprint, the Emirates Group will play an instrumental part in adding more cities to its foreign trade network and opening new economic corridors."

Linus Bauer, managing director of Dubai-based Bauer Aviation Advisory, said Emirates' focus on streamlining operations had prepared it well for the resumption of travel, with the benefit of lower costs and higher airfare yields.  

John Strickland, director of aviation advisory group JLS Consulting, added that Emirates had been “rational, sensible and considered” in its post-Covid reconstruction, and was well placed for further growth.

It has turned things around from a massive loss to its best profit ever – and that’s with big markets like China still to come back on, and more aircraft to come back in.”