Virgin Atlantic Airways chief executive Shai Weiss sees the UK carrier returning to profit this year after narrowing its pre-tax loss before exceptional items to £139 million ($175 million) in 2023.

It marks a reduction on the £206 million the carrier lost in 2022, while Virgin’s EBIT profit of £80 million outstripped its £74 million performance in pre-pandemic 2019. The airline recorded an EBIT of £71 million in 2022.

A330-900 Virgin Atlantic Airways Rolls Royce Trent 7000 engine

Source: Airbus

Virgin in March took delivery of its fifth of 16 A330-900s and the 11th of a dozen A350s

Weiss says: “A loss is never satisfactory; however, our performance and results illustrate that we have made really good progress in 2023, the plan is working, and Virgin Atlantic is on course to return to profitability in 2024.”

Virgin, which last recorded a profit in 2016, is halfway through a four-year strategic plan aimed at making the airline sustainability profitable.

The improved performance was driven by record passenger revenues, which increased £324 million to £2.4 billion in 2023. Passenger numbers reached 5.3 million at a load factor of 77%, based on capacity increased 16%. The airline operated a fleet of 45 aircraft in 2023.

Overall revenues rose £265 million in 2023 to reach £3.1 billion.

Virgin Atlantic chief financial officer Oli Byers says: “In 2023, we flew more sectors than 2019 with four fewer aircraft, illustrating the efficiency of our fleet today. Combined with continued cost discipline and protecting cash, these actions ensure we are positioned to return to profitability in 2024.

”As customer demand for travel endures, we will go further this year by welcoming six new aircraft and capacity growth of 12%, while maintaining cost discipline as always, targeting record revenues and operating profit.”

Virgin, which last year joined shareholder Delta Air Lines in the SkyTeam alliance, will this year launch flights to the Maldives and Turks and Caicos, as well as resuming flights to Dubai. It also today announced plans to add a second daily Heathrow service to Mumbai from this winter.