- It posted pre-tax losses of £28.4m for 2017, against profits of £23m in 2016
- Virgin Atlantic carried 100,000 fewer passengers last year
Virgin Atlantic swung to its first loss in four years as the pound’s tumbling, hurricane disruption and engine supply woes took their toll.
The carrier, founded by Richard Branson but majority-owned by Delta airlines, posted pre-tax losses of £28.4million for last year, against profits of £23million in 2016.
Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘There were three big external issues that we had to deal with in 2017; the full year impact of a weak sterling relative to the dollar, an industry-wide engine supply issue and severe hurricane disruption in the Caribbean and US.
Loss: The pound’s tumbling, hurricane disruption and engine supply woes took their toll
‘While some of these challenges will remain prevalent in 2018, we will stay focused on delivering for our customers.’
Virgin Atlantic carried 100,000 fewer passengers last year, at 5.3 million, and its load factor also declined to 78.3 per cent from 78.7 per cent.
The airline has blamed the pound’s collapse for an increase in costs and a decline in demand from British travellers. However, it has benefited from more American passengers coming to Europe, with US customers up 20 per cent.
As well as the sterling woes, the group was impacted further by faults with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine parts, which led to some of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners being grounded.
The issue has impacted a raft of airlines, also including British Airways, and saw Rolls recently warn over a charge of around £340million it will take this year for the cost of repairs to fix the faults.
A devastating hurricane season also compounded Virgin Atlantic’s problems, with storms such as Irma causing havoc across the Caribbean and Florida Keys.