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DUBAI, Feb 10 AFP

February 11 2013, 07:52AM

Dubai's Emirates Airlines says its year to March 2013 income is seen rising by 18 to 20 per cent, as the emirate officially opened the world's first concourse dedicated to Airbus A380 superjumbos.

The Middle East's biggest carrier expects to see "an 18 to 20 per cent" income rise this year, Emirates president Tim Clark told reporters on Sunday.

For the first six months of the current fiscal year its net profit jumped by 104 per cent to 1.7 billion dirhams ($A453.68 million) from 836 million dirhams in the corresponding period of the previous year.

In the year to March 2012, Emirates had posted a net profit of 1.5 billion dirhams, down from 5.4 billion dirhams in the previous accounting year.

Clark said the fast-growing airline expects to have a fleet of 210 aircraft by spring 2014.

He said the carrier "would buy more A380s" if there was space at its hub to accommodate them.

Dubai Airports, meanwhile, said its Concourse A, the world's first facility built to serve the superjumbo, had become fully operational.

It has 20 gates compatible with the double-deck aircraft for which Emirates is the largest single customer with 31 planes in service and 59 more on order.

Boeing's largest customer also expressed confidence in US manufacturer's ability to solve technical problems regarding battery fires that have led to the grounding of its 787 Dreamliners.

"Boeing will sort this out. It is a formidable corporation. It has a track record of building superb aircraft," said Clark, whose company has not bought any 787s but has largest fleet of Boeing 777s.

"What you see in the 787 design platforms today is the future of aircraft. There are hiccups. This one is unfortunate. I am confident they will sort this out."

The 11-floor Concourse A facility, which will be used by Emirates like the rest of Terminal 3, increases Dubai International's capacity from 60 million passengers a year to 75 million.

The concourse will also be available for Australia's Qantas A380s flights to Europe, under a global partnership agreed last year between the two carriers which awaits final approval from Australia's competition watchdog.

The building is part of a $US7.8 billion ($A7.63 billion) strategic plan by Dubai Airports to bring the capacity of the travel hub to 90 million passengers by 2018.

Emirates, which began operations in 1985 with two leased planes, has become a major competitor of legacy airlines, turning Dubai into a major transit hub for travel between Europe, Asia and Australasia.

It operates a fleet of 197 wide-bodied Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

In the year 2011-2012, the carrier transported 34 million passengers and 1.8 million tonnes of cargo.

By Ali Khalil