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DUBAI: The Emirates Group has reported a 65 percent increase in H1 2015 net profit of US$1.0 billion on revenue of US$12.6 billion – down 2.3 percent from the same period last year due to the strong US dollar against other major currencies.

Emirates GroupEmirates Airline (EK) reported profits of US$849 million on revenue of US$11.5 billion – a drop of 4.0 percent from 2014. During H1, the airline launched services to Bali, Multan, Orlando and Mashhad. Bologna was added November 03 and Panama City will become the airline's 149th destination on February 01, 2016.

dnata revenue for H1 increased 27 percent to US$1.4 billion and net profit rose 64 percent year-on-year to reach US$152 million. Airport operations remained the largest contributor to revenue at US$645 million, a 21 percent increase. The number of aircraft handled during the period jumped 21 percent to 169,951, as cargo throughput rose 10 percent to 917,065 tonnes handled.

The group's cash position in September was US$4.0 billion, down from US$5.5 billion in March due to "ongoing investments mainly into new aircraft, airline related infrastructure projects, and business acquisitions" that included the Stella Group in Europe and Toll dnata in Australia.

EK carried 25.7 million passengers and 1.25 million tonnes of cargo in H1, up 10 percent year-on-year respectively.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, group chairman and CEO acknowledged the strong US$ dollar, coupled with regional conflicts and weak economic growth in many parts of the world, had reduced the benefit of lower fuel prices on operations.

He added: "That the group is reporting one of its most profitable first half-year performances ever, speaks to the strength of our underlying business. In first six months of this year, Emirates and dnata grew in terms of capacity, capability and global reach - organically, and for dnata through strategic acquisitions as well."

Looking ahead, Sheikh Ahmed said the group would continue to build on its core strengths while keeping "an eye out for strategic growth opportunities, and stay agile so that we can respond effectively to external challenges".

Coincident with the Emirates Group results, Boeing said it expects Middle East airlines will need 3,180 new airplanes over the next 20 years - much of it due to fleet expansion.

"Traffic growth in the Middle East continues to grow at a healthy rate and is expected to grow 6.2 percent annually during the next 20 years," said Randy Tinseth, vice president, Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "About 80 percent of the world's population lives within an eight-hour flight of the Arabian Gulf. This geographic position, coupled with diverse business strategies and investment in infrastructure is allowing carriers in the Middle East to aggregate traffic at their hubs and offer one-stop service between many city pairs that would not otherwise enjoy such direct itineraries."

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