UK’s Virgin Atlantic on course to return to profitability

Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic said on Wednesday it would return to profitability this year after strong demand from holiday makers drove revenue up by 265 million pounds ($333 million) to a record 3.1 billion pounds in 2023.

The airline, which is 49%-owned by Delta Air Lines, reported an adjusted pre-tax loss of 139 million pounds for 2023 compared to a loss of 206 million pounds in the prior year.

Chief Executive Shai Weiss said the carrier had “capitalised on continued strong demand for leisure air travel and holidays”.

“A loss is never satisfactory; however, our performance and results illustrate that we have made really good progress in 2023, the plan is working, and Virgin Atlantic is on course to return to profitability in 2024,” he said.

The airline operated more flights than in 2019 using a fleet of 41 aircraft, which was four fewer than pre-pandemic levels, Chief Financial Officer Oli Byers told reporters.

It flew 5.3 million passengers to long-haul destinations such as the United States, the Caribbean and India.

The airline’s performance since the start of the year was “very encouraging”, Byers said.

“We’ve seen very strong demand from a premium leisure perspective and also some further recovery in corporate travel,” he said.

Corporate travel, which unlike leisure has not fully recovered since the pandemic, dipped towards the end of 2023, but was looking stronger this year and was trending up to around 80% of pre-pandemic levels, he said.

Virgin Atlantic, which will launch a second daily service from London to Mumbai in October, aimed to increase operating profit to around 200 million pounds this year, double the record achieved back in 1999, he said.


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