Virgin flying high

Virgin Atlantic is steadily raising its credentials as a global player, including a higher profile of its cargo business

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Virgin Atlantic is steadily raising its credentials as a global player, including a higher profile of its cargo business, said John Lloyd, director of Virgin Atlantic.

"The addition of Montego Bay to our network exemplifies the change in direction we have taken in recent years, a direction the cargo business is following,"? he said.

He added that after 9/11 there was a shift in emphasis in the airline's passenger business away from business traffic and into the leisure market.

“This is why we pulled off routes such as Chicago and why Montego Bay is now our eighth Caribbean destination to be served out of the UK."

Not that the airline's cargo business is in the doldrums, Virgin Atlantic has just produced annual results featuring a profit climb to US$75 million. According to Lloyd, cargo generated revenue of US $280-million, up nearly 20% on the previous year. Tonnage carried, at 163,000 tonnes, was up 10%.

Lloyd also recognised that Virgin Cargo is currently at a critical stage in its growth.

“Up to now, only about 20 to 25% of our cargo business has been through traffic, which is quite low compared to some airlines. But we now expect that figure to climb quite rapidly to around 50% over the next few years," said Lloyd.

“The market Virgin Atlantic is looking most keenly at now is probably China and certainly it is the jewel in the crown of the carrier's cargo business,"? he added.

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