After an hour the Virgin Blue half-year earnings press conference is still going on, but here are some highlights:
- Virgin Blue posts A$62.5m profit after tax for the six months to December 2009 compared with a $101.4m loss in the same period a year earlier. Virgin Blue’s half-year profit was $4.5m more than that of formidable Qantas.
- Virgin Blue attributed the sharp turn around to a decrease in fuel cost as well as cost containment (such as operating more services with the same number of staff)
- V Australia contributed a $39m loss
- Profit before tax for the short haul business was $108 million, up 126% against the prior period
- Virgin Blue is still in discussion with Boeing to order upwards of 50 737s to be delivered in the short-term. The aircraft will feature Boeing’s new Sky Interior and will be outfitted with Boeing’s fuel saving improvements.
- All aircraft from May onwards will have premium economy
- V Australia gave A$200m worth of traffic to Virgin Blue (that’s passengers who travel across the Pacific on V Aus and then transfer to a Virgin Blue domestic flight)
- V Aus is still expected to reach break-even within 18 months of launching ops, i.e. August this year
- Virgin Blue will develop a Blackberry application to allow passengers to book and modify tickets as well as check-in with their Blackberry
- Brett Godfrey affirmed my December article that Virgin Blue is looking to order the -900 variant as part of its 737 order. The -900′s increased capacity would be a boon for slot-restricted Sydney, he said, adding the -900 has a 2-3% lower operating cost per seat.
- Godfrey said he expected this earnings report to be his last, indicating he still expects his successor to start by August