Emirates joins airlines’ high-loss club

An Emirates plane is seen at Lisbon’s airport in Portugal, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Emirates has joined an unfortunate elite club. The Gulf airline, owned by the government of Dubai, on Tuesday posted a $6 billion loss for 2020. That puts it on a par with London-based International Airlines Group (ICAG.L), parent of British Airways, and is only marginally healthier than European rivals Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) and Deutsche Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), which lost $7.5 billion and $8.1 billion respectively. Aggressive cost-cutting by Emirates’ state backers averted a worse financial disaster.

For a state-owned company, the airline’s job-cutting zeal stands out. Staff numbers went from 109,000 to 75,000 in a year, a swingeing 31% drop. That may only be possible because of the large numbers of non-Emirati citizens on its payroll. Lufthansa, by contrast, shed 26,000 positions, a 19% drop. It plans more cuts as part of a long-term overhaul. Strong unions and Berlin’s weak hand on the Lufthansa joystick, courtesy of a 9 billion euro government bailout, mean they’re not set in stone. (By Ed Cropley)

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