DUBAI – Dubai-based Emirates Airline Thursday said yields are returning, but that it will continue to keep costs tight as it starts to emerge from the global downturn.

“Yields did take a beating, but after much work they are slowly returning,” Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said at the European Aviation Club in Brussels, according to a transcript of the speech. “It is clear we are emerging from the worst of the downturn.”

Once buoyed by soaring oil revenue, Emirates, like other airlines around the world has been feeling the impact of falling passenger numbers and weakening demand for business and first class traffic amid the wider global economic crisis.

In Dubai, real-estate development, which has fueled local growth and attracted foreign residents and investors, has plummeted. Tourist numbers, meanwhile, which have served as the backbone for Emirates Airline’s expansion, have also fallen.

Clark Thursday acknowledged that 2009 had been a tough year for Dubai, but said that the emirate was also starting to recover from the financial crisis.

“2009 was a difficult year…it has been a wake up call for Dubai,” he said.

Clark said that the U.A.E. and Dubai will remain a “critical market” for Europe and that the economic relationship between the European Union and Dubai was “strong and accelerating”.

Emirates last week said its first-half net profit almost tripled to 752 million U.A.E. dirhams ($205 million) from a year earlier on lower costs and fuel prices, but warned that demand for air travel is unlikely to pickup for at least a year. Emirates will continue its “ruthlessness on costs” to remain competitive, he said Thursday.

Clark also hit back at critics of the airline who accuse it of receiving government subsidized fuel and reduced parking fees at Dubai airport.

“I am sure this list of misconceptions will remain aloft – too many competitors have a vested interest in keeping it that way,” he said.