Virgin Atlantic profits rocket 38% on strong business sales

Virgin Atlantic has defied high fuel prices and a slowing global economy to post run-away annual profits for 2007/08.

Pre-tax profits from March 07 to Feb 08 climbed 38% to £60.9m, which Virgin attributes to a surge in business passengers. The latter rose 22% in 2007/08, with the total number of passengers carried during the year increasing by 7.6% to 5.7 million.The airline also said it experienced a flourish of new passengers switching from British Airways to avoid the early Heathrow Terminal 5 problems.

Group sales, including tour operator Virgin Holidays, rose 9.1% to nearly £2.37bn. In the period March-May 2008, pre-tax profits rose to £23.5m, with sales up 16% to £645.3m.

Virgin President Richard Branson continued his assault on the proposed tie-up of BA, Iberia and American Airlines. He said: “It’s ironic that just as regulators are breaking up one monopoly - (airport operator) BAA - British Airways and American Airlines are trying to create another.”

“Our results prove that consumers want choice on transatlantic routes. Unless the regulators block the proposed BA/AA monopoly, consumers will lose out - and they’ll pay higher ticket prices for the privilege.”