After three years of haemorrhaging money, Virgin Atlantic is gaining altitude again with a slim but significant profit. The airline’s pre-tax profit before exceptional items was up to £14.4m last year, a mighty improvement on the £51m loss it posted in 2013.
The results are a mark of success for Virgin’s partnership with American airline Delta, which acquired a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic at the end of 2012. Current CEO Craig Kreeger was brought on board in January 2013 and tasked with turning the business around. He is probably feeling pretty pleased with himself today.
‘These profitable results mark the successful conclusion of our recovery period and have put firm foundations in place for the future,’ he said. ‘We are confident that we have the right fleet, network and partners in place to be more profitable than ever before by 2018.’
It's not been a totally positive year of course - in October it had to scrap its domestic service Little Red which was struggling to fill flights. But the airline's founder and 'president' Richard Branson was obviously upbeat. '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,' he said.
Less happy about the figures will be British Airways chief exec Willie Walsh, who predicted in 2012 that Virgin Atlantic would be dead within five years. ‘I can’t see Delta wanting to operate the Virgin brand because if they do what does that say about the Delta brand?’ he told the Telegraph.
He’s still got a couple of years to go, but his prediction certainly looks less likely an outcome now than it used to.