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Business News

Virgin blames a second year of losses on the Olympics

Virgin Atlantic slumped to a £93m loss for the 12 months to March, the second consecutive year of major losses, with Sir Richard Branson's airline blaming the Olympics for "severely denting demand for business travel".

The final group loss was a slightly better £69.9m, which includes the addition of the £35m contingency cash that the airline had set aside after an investigation into price-fixing, which was then not called upon, and £23.1m licensing income from the Virgin America and Virgin Australia carriers.

Virgin managed to increase revenues by 5 per cent to £2.87bn for the year to March, and passenger numbers rose slightly to 5.5 million. But Craig Kreeger, the new chief executive, who has frozen wages as part of his attempt to return the airline to profit in two years, said: "Last year saw a double-dip recession, a continued weak macro economy and an Olympic Games which, although a fantastic event, severely dented demand for business travel."

However, its rival British Airways, a part of International Airlines Group, which ran a campaign for Britons to "stay at home" during the Olympics, made an operating profit of €347m (£292m) in 2012.

Mr Kreeger, a former customer services chief at American Airlines who took over from his long-standing predecessor Steve Ridgway in February, now has to work on Virgin's transatlantic partnership with the American giant Delta Air Lines, with the aim of taking on British Airways' tie-up with American Airlines. Delta last year paid $360m (£235m) for a 49 per cent stake in Virgin.