Virgin witnesses premium demand despite downturn

Load factors average 78% with Dubai route doing well

Demand for Virgin Atlantic's premium cabins is strong
Demand for Virgin Atlantic's premium cabins is strong

Virgin Atlantic says load factors on its Dubai to London route have been “very high” due to “strong leisure and premium demand”.

And across its network, load factors have averaged 78% despite the economic downturn said the company, which this week announced it had doubled its pre-tax profits to £68.4 million (US $108.8 million) in the last financial year, up from £34.8 million ($55.4 million) the year before.

Although the airline said it did not break down figures by region, Virgin Atlantic regional manager Middle East Andrew Fyfe said he was “happy with the contribution made by our daily Dubai-London Heathrow services”.

"We are delighted that our staff have delivered such good results especially in these very difficult trading conditions. Earlier this month we won the Business Traveller Award for best Premium Economy Class in the Middle East and we remain committed to our popular daily service between London and Dubai,” he added.

Virgin’s profits contrast sharply to rival UK carrier British Airways’ record pre-tax losses of £401 million ($638) from a record profit of £922 million ($1.5 biillion) the previous year.

Not only that but during a time when most carriers are struggling to fill their premium cabins, Virgin’s Premium Economy and Upper Class continue to do well.

“We have prepared for the recession,” said Fyfe.

“We started taking action as far back as 2006 to defer aircraft deliveries, build up cash in the bank, and be more aggressive on fuel hedging. We also invested heavily in our Premium Economy and Upper Class products, which are highly valued by travellers.”

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