Virgin Blue Announces New Profits, Product and Partnership

Three pieces of good news from Australia's Virgin Blue Holdings Limited: The Group has reported a net profit before tax of $34.3 million. Underlying earnings for the Group were $87.2 million before interest and tax, and the underlying net profit before tax was $31 million, in line with the revised guidance of $20-40 million announced to the market in May 2010.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director John Borghetti said the result was in line with expectations and was influenced by the deterioration in the operating environment for all carriers during the fourth quarter.

The profit, the group said in a statement, result was delivered largely by the company’s strong Australian domestic short haul business achieving a 2.7 percent increase in RASK (Revenue per Available Seat Kilometre) together with an ongoing focus on improving efficiency.

The company had two other major announcements to make: In the second phase of its network review, Virgin Blue will be adding two wide-body A330-200 aircraft between the East Coast and Western Australia.

The group has also announced an alliance with Etihad Airways. The first step of this alliance will see Virgin Blue codeshare from V Australia to all Etihad Airways codeshares in October 2010, providing multiple destinations to the UK, Middle East and Europe. The partnership will launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011.

Eventually, the two airlines will offer total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia – including double-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.

V Australia will operate three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services per week from February 2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services per week by February 2012, becoming the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East since 1991.

From October, Virgin Blue Group customers can access Etihad’s network of 65 destinations across North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Subcontinent. All Virgin Blue services will be available to Etihad customers, opening up 45 destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and to Asia, South Africa and Los Angeles.

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