Virgin Atlantic today announced that it has achieved its first quarter of profitability since the downturn following the events of 11 September. In the three months February to April 2002 the airline group made a trading profit of around £5 million. This turnaround in fortunes follows the quick and decisive action taken by the airline to restructure its operations in the final quarter of 2001.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:
“It’s a tremendous achievement to register a trading profit of around £5 million in the last three months after the terrible challenges the airline faced last year. It’s a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all our staff.
“After September 11 we moved more quickly and decisively than our rivals to restructure the airline to match the new demands of the market place. In common with other airlines operating across the North Atlantic trading conditions have been tough. Virgin Atlantic will make an overall loss of around £90m for the 2001/02 financial year due to the impact of the events of 11 September.
“Both shareholders, Virgin and Singapore Airlines, are pleased with this performance in these circumstances and have recently agreed, between them, to inject £25m of new investment into the airline. This will boost the efforts being made by the company to set aside funds for key projects and accelerate growth and profitability.”
The shareholders` investment, announced on 3 May 2002 will fund a package of initiatives which are designed to build on the gradual improvement in market conditions and strengthen the company’s return to growth and profitability. The package includes R & D funding for new product initiatives, expansion of the route network as the market recovers, expansion of Virgin Holidays’ programme to include more worldwide destinations, completion of the new Virgin Atlantic Hangar at Heathrow (which is the only one in the UK capable of accommodating new generation aircraft like the A340/600) and expansion of Virgin Travelstore, one of the UK’s fastest growing travel websites.
In recent weeks Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to create around 300 new jobs over the remainder of the year - the first recruitment drive since September. Earlier in the year the airline announced it would be adding some additional frequencies to popular destinations like Orlando, Lagos, Shanghai and New York. The airline will also be launch customer for the new A340-600 aircraft, the first of which will be delivered this summer.