Virgin Atlantic turns in full-year profit

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Virgin Atlantic Airways has posted a pre-tax operating profit of £18.5 million ($30 million) for its last fiscal full year, compared to the previous year's pre-tax loss of £132 million.

Revenue for the 12-month period ended 31 March 2011 increased by 13% to £2.7 billion, with cargo revenue up 39% to £224 million.

The carrier has announced that it plans to invest £100 million in new product development, following its return to profit.

"Whilst we have been very focused on trading the airline back to profitability, we have worked hard to introduce new aircraft, new routes and extra rotations to the existing network where there is high demand," said Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway.

"This year we are investing heavily in new product innovation so that we retain and enhance our leadership in customer service and experience."

Virgin Atlantic ended is fiscal year with a cash position of £562 million.

For the carrier's first quarter ended 31 May 2011, revenue increased by 7.6% to £658 million.

"Since the turn of the year, market conditions have become tougher with increased capacity, faltering consumer confidence and high fuel prices," said Ridgway.

"We are also seeing softer trading in the areas that are hit hardest by the continued rises in air passenger duty, particularly the Caribbean routes and premium economy cabins."

He added that while business traffic remains strong, "demand in the economy cabin is more challenged".