We are pleased to announce profits of EUR 4.5 million for the 3rd Quarter of 2002, 50% ahead
of the EUR 3.0 million shown for the 3rd Quarter last year. This improvement means that in
what has been a difficult trading year, Virgin Express is now profitable year to date and we
remain on track to meet our forecast made at the beginning of the year for profit for the full year
Overall sales within the company grew by more than14%, with own sales more than doubling to
replace the guaranteed Sabena revenue that existed a year ago.
Operating costs remained well controlled and for the quarter came in below 6 Euro cents/ASK.
This figure is in line with easyJet’s performance.
Since revealing our plans in July 2002 to enter the German market, both Lufthansa and TUI
announced the start up of their own low cost carriers from Köln/Bonn Airport. Predicting a major
price war, we in turn announced on 19th September that we were making the sensible decision
to step back from our plans to start operations from Köln/Bonn. We will continue to evaluate
other opportunities in Europe.
By mutual consent our current commercial agreement with SN Brussels Airlines will end at the
end of March 2003. After the sale of the SN Brussels Airlines slots at London Heathrow (the
legal possession of which is now under investigation by the Commercial Court of Brussels), we
successfully withdrew our remaining services from London to Brussels at the end of October
2002. Aircraft capacity freed up as a result has been transferred to our other European
destinations from Brussels.
Despite a seasonal trading reduction in the 4th Quarter, we expect continued progress during
the remainder of 2002 to deliver full year profits. This position has been achieved in spite of
yields being under significant pressure from traditional carriers heavily discounting prices to
generate revenue. Our results have been greatly helped by our outstanding on-time
performance throughout the year with more than 9 out of 10 flights departing on-time year to date. The Association of European Airlines published for its members an average figure of
Over the last six months Virgin Express carried more passengers than any other airline at
Brussels Airport, thus making our home base the first main airport in Europe where the market
leader is a low fare carrier.
Finally, we are delighted to have been voted ‘Best Short Haul Airline - 2002’ by the Belgian
travel trade, with Lufthansa coming in second place. We have worked hard over the past two
years to deliver a high quality, reliable and value for money product for the European travelling
public. This award is recognition of the great improvements that have taken place in our airline
but we are not complacent. We remain determined to continue the improvement and offer even
better value to our customers.