Virgin Atlantic's turnaround plan is taking off as losses halve

The airline founded by billionaire Richard Branson says it's on track to return to profit by the end of the year. Good news for new chief executive Craig Kreeger.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 10 Mar 2015

Craig Kreeger’s tenure in the cockpit of Virgin Atlantic seems to be going rather well so far. The airline’s chief exec joined the company in February 2013 and gets to report that he’s halved losses for his first set of annual results. Not bad.

The airline, founded by billionaire Richard Branson 30 years ago, flew in a pre-tax loss of £51m in 2013, exactly half what it was in 2012. The company said it made a £7m profit in the 10 months from March to December 2013 (after changing its year end from February to December, bringing it into line with parent Virgin Group) and revenue rose 4.9% to £2.98bn.

‘Good progress’ was being made towards the airline’s target of turning a profit by the end of 2014, Kreeger said.

Since donning the captain’s hat in February 2013, after a 27-year stint at American Airlines where he became a senior executive, Kreeger has cut costs and launched currently loss-making UK domestic airline Little Red. The American has also cosied up to 49% shareholder Delta Airlines, which bought its stake in Virgin off Singapore Airlines in December 2012.

The two airlines have been working to boost each other’s profitability on the lucrative transatlantic route, since the deal got the green light from regulators in September. ‘Our Delta relationship…greatly enhances our revenue opportunities in the US,’ Kreeger oozed.

If Kreeger does find himself in the black at the end of the year, there could be yet more smooching between Virgin and Delta to look forward to.

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