Australia's Virgin Blue posts H1 profit of A$62.5m

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Virgin Blue has moved into the black, reporting a A$62.5 million ($56 million) net profit for the fiscal first half.

For the six months ending 31 December the Australian carrier had a net profit of A$62.5 million which compares with a net loss of A$101.4 million in the corresponding period last year, it says.

Group revenue rose 12% to A$1.51 billion from A$1.35 billion, it adds.

"While a favourable fuel movement certainly helped", the group also "achieved a continued decrease in the cost per available seat kilometre, excluding fuel", says Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey.

Godfrey warns "the operating environment is still uncertain and that concerns remain about the pace of the global economic recovery" although the company forecasts it will make a A$80-100 million pre-tax profit for the full year.

He also says Virgin Blue has "reached an in-principle agreement with Boeing for an order of up to 50 aircraft".

"These will be equipped with the upgraded Boeing 'sky interiors' as well as performance improvements that will deliver significant fuel and maintenance efficiencies."

For the fiscal first half the group's capacity, as measured by ASKs, rose 25%, says Virgin Blue.

This increase in capacity was partly due to last February's launch of V Australia, the group's long-haul arm.

Virgin Blue says V Australia had revenues of A$117 million for the six months to 31 December and that it posted a pre-tax loss of A$39 million.

For more on this story, look at Flightglobal's Wings Down Under blog