Virgin Atlantic trims annual loss

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Virgin Atlantic narrowed losses by an eighth in its latest financial year.

For the 12 months ending 28 February, the UK airline's pre-tax result was negative to the tune of £69.9 million ($107 million), which compares with a figure of more than £80 million for the previous year.

However, airline operations were responsible for a loss of £93 million. This was softened by an exceptional item and other group income.

"Last year saw a double-dip recession, a continued weak macro economy, and an Olympic Games which, although a fantastic event, severely dented demand for business travel," says Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger, who took up the position on 1 February. "Despite these challenging circumstances, the enduring strength of the Virgin Atlantic brand has not wavered."

Revenue rose 5% to £2.9 billion. Load factor kinked up to 79%, from 78%, while passenger numbers were 3% higher at 5.5 million, as 90,000 more people flew in premium economy and upper class, and 100,000 more in economy. Cargo revenues totalled £230 million.

"Virgin Atlantic has a programme of measures going forward which I am confident will improve our financial performance considerably in 2013/14 and put us firmly on the road to a return to profit in spring 2015," says Kreeger, citing the launch of the Little Red domestic operation, a transatlantic joint venture with Delta Air Lines, fleet changes - including full-year operation of 10 A330-300s, plus the arrival of a first Boeing 787-9 next year - and targeted cost savings of £45 million from "back-office operations".