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Virgin Blue expects to post a profit this fiscal year

Australian carrier Virgin Blue, which posted a net loss last fiscal year, expects to post a full-year profit this fiscal year despite the uncertain economic environment.

"The company is currently profitable and based on current trading we believe that the company will return to profitability in 2010," says Virgin Blue chairman Neil Chatfield.

This is in spite of an "economic environment both globally and within Australia (that) remains uncertain," he adds.

In the domestic market, however, he sees "some encouraging signs" of recovery.

Last fiscal year, ending 30 June, Virgin Blue posted a net loss of A$160 million ($130 million).

Chatfield says "despite softening demand and the poor operating environment in the 2009 financial year, Virgin Blue's underlying business remained profitable with earnings before interest and taxes of A$145 million.

On a separate issue, Chatfield reiterated that CEO Brett Godfrey retire in 2010, but arrangements are in place for him to stay until December 2010.

A search for a replacement is underway. Chief operations officer Andrew David does not wish to be a candidate for the job, says Chatfield.

He says David's role is being expanded "to recognise his strong contribution to the group" and a new commercial officer will be joining Virgin Blue in 2010.

Virgin Blue says capital preservation will remain a top priority this fiscal year.

It says two debt-financed Embraer 190s are being delivered between October-December this year. Three Boeing 737s are subject to sale and leaseback by year-end.

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