Virgin America posts fourth quarter operating loss

Washington DC
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Virgin America released financial results today showing a fourth quarter 2008 operating loss of $27 million after losing $174 million for the first three quarters of the year.

After unsuccessfully lobbying US regulators to keep its operating data confidential, Virgin America has opted to disclose select data ahead of DOT posting its results later this year. The carrier made its debut in 2007.

The carrier posted fourth quarter revenues of $110 million and load factors of 81.2%. Opting not to disclose specific numbers, Virgin America says fourth quarter unit revenues grew 87% year-over-year and 5.3% versus the third quarter. Virgin America's cash balances at the end of the fourth quarter were $68 million.

Assessing Virgin America's performance carrier CEO David Cush says: "These results have exceeded our expectations, and show steady quarter-over-quarter growth in unit revenue and margin improvement since our launch in August 2007."

The carrier's ownership structure is under question as one of its rivals Alaska Airlines has petitioned the DOT to determine if Virgin America still meets US citizenship requirements. Various media reports have emerged indicating that the carrier's US investors might exercise put options to return their stakes to the Virgin Group.