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Virgin Atlantic posts £14.4m profit


Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson praised staff for doing "a great job in turning around the airline"

Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson praised staff for doing "a great job in turning around the airline"

Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson praised staff for doing "a great job in turning around the airline"

Virgin Atlantic has reported its first profit since 2011 and the airline's founder Sir Richard Branson said he was looking forward "to the next 30 years".

The carrier is reporting a pre-tax profit of £14.4 million f or the year ending December 31 2014, representing an improvement of £65.4 million on the previous year's financial performance.

Sir Richard has hailed staff for doing " a great job in turning around the airline".

Chief executive Craig Kreeger said the results mark the conclusion of the recovery period, putting "firm foundations in place for the future".

The group had a pre-tax loss of £51 million the year ending December 2013 - the last time the airline reported a profit was in 2011.

Group revenue was £2.9 billion in 2014, with Virgin Holidays recording a profit for the year before tax and exceptional items of £5.7 million, up £3 million year on year, and increased revenue by 1.1%.

Passenger satisfaction scores have increased, with an 11% improvement since 2012, while 85.5% of flights departed within 15 minutes of schedule, meaning that 14.5% did not.

Virgin Atlantic say the results confirm that it has delivered on the target it set in February 2013 to return to profit within two years.

Sir Richard, Virgin Atlantic p resident, said: "I can't think of a better way to complete our 30th birthday year than with a return to profit. The team at Virgin Atlantic has done a great job in turning around the airline and has the right strategy to take the business from strength to strength.

"Keeping our customers and our people at the heart of everything we do gives me great confidence in our future and I look forward to the next 30 years."

Mr Kreeger said: "We had a clearly defined strategy to transform the financial performance of the business and everyone involved can be rightly proud that we delivered that in a rigorous time frame, while investing in continuous improvements to our passengers' experience."

Virgin Atlantic said it remains focused on delivering the best possible experience and service to its customers enhanced by a £300 million investment in this area by 2018.

The group said strategic changes in the business along with operational and cost efficiencies have driven the improved financial performance.

In October, the airline took delivery of the first of its state of the art, fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9s, with seven more to follow in 2015 as part of a fleet regeneration programme.

Benefit was also gained from its joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines, launched in January 2014.

More than 4.5 million passengers flew on joint venture services in its first year of operation and the two airlines expect this number to continue to grow in 2015.

The partnership's total number of code share routes recently increased to 484 and its peak daily transatlantic services will rise to 39 from summer 2015. This includes 10 daily departures between London and New York.

New routes will be launched this summer between Manchester and Atlanta, London Heathrow and Detroit, and London Gatwick and Tobago, as well as a series of seasonal flights between Belfast and Orlando and Glasgow and Las Vegas.

There will also be increased frequency in services between Heathrow and major US destinations including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York.