Year two of its three-year game change programme, and a transformed Virgin Australia has shown it is the antithesis of Qantas. The airline today posted an after tax profit of $22.8 million, and a full year underlying profit before tax of $82.5 million, an improvement of $149.1 million from the last financial year.
Virgin’s results are admirable given a continued tough operating environment, a loss from fuel hedging and the need to absorb costs associated with the transformation.
The airline has experienced strong revenue growth over the year up 19.8% to a total of $3.9 billion.
Two years into its game change programme and a year ahead of schedule Virgin Australia has achieved a 20 per cent share of the Australian corporate and government market. High yield revenue is up 113 per cent and John Borghetti believes the airline has achieved the “tipping point in realising a new competitive norm in Australia”.
CEO John Borghetti attributes the result to the “tireless dedication of our people, their drive to make a real difference for customers, and their unwavering determination to deliver on strategy”.
The Game Change transformation may be complete, but the game is only just starting for Virgin.
Starting October, Virgin will roll out its WiFi streaming IFE product. The system developed by Lufthansa Systems’ will stream content directly to Samsung Android tablets. From early 2013, the airline will implement a new Sabre reservations system allowing the airline to use a single VA airline designator for all services.
Virgin is reaping the benefits of being the world’s largest virtual network carrier. International operations are now extremely profitable, “the best part is we did this without buying one aircraft” says Borghetti. Codeshare and interline revenue from its international partners is up 158 per cent. New international destinations and virtual network partners are also on the horizon as Virgin targets an additional $150 million in revenue from its virtual networks by 2015.
The Airbus A330-200 fleet will also see international services sooner rather than later. Given the benefits of its virtual network, Virgin’s own international network will continue grow in an extensive but complementary fashion.
One aircraft will be delivered in 2013 and by June 2016 the airline will have eight of the type. Its widebody transcontinental services require five aircraft, and the remaining three will likely be used to complement Etihad’s eventual Perth to Abu Dhabi services, and launch services from the east coast to new destinations in Asia.
Virgin Australia is currently evaluating both the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 and will place an order for unspecified number by June 2013 for delivery from 2017. Borghetti noting “its a holistic view of our long-haul and medium-haul operations” as the 777s will need to be replaced around that time. It also provides Virgin the opportunity to mature its own international network and presence to better leverage the capability of its next generation narrowbody Boeing 737 MAX 8 and widebody aircraft for expansion post 2017.
Closing his press conference, John Borghetti took a jab at the competition, “I’ve been around a long time, probably a lot longer than some would like”. With everything at Virgin looking up, he’s going to be around a lot longer yet.