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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 06:19 GMT 07:19 UK
Virgin Atlantic boosts US-UK flights
Virgin Atlantic tail fins
Virgin Atlantic: Back on course?
Virgin Atlantic Airways is poised to announce that it is restoring more UK-US flights which were axed after the 11 September terror strikes, a report said.

The move by the carrier, controlled by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, eases some of the gloom which has surrounded the longhaul travel market since the attacks.

Airports operator BAA on Wednesday revealed that it carried 10% fewer transatlantic passengers last month than in June 2001.

And it represents a further fillip for Sir Richard's airline interests, coming the day after Virgin Express, 59% owned by his Virgin Group Investments company, said it planned to open a base at Cologne-Bonn airport.

Revival race

Virgin Atlantic will this autumn reinstate a fifth daily Heathrow-New York service, with a second daily service to Washington planned for next summer, the Financial Times said.

The number of flights from Gatwick and Manchester to Orlando will rise in a year's time from 20 a week to 24, the newspaper added.

The additions will help the firm recover by next summer its pre-11 September capacity, the carrier said, and will be viewed as the latest of a series of signals that Virgin Atlantic is recovering from last travel slump quicker than rival British Airways.

While BA last week said it was not budgeting for increased revenues in coming months, Virgin Atlantic put in a sufficiently strong recovery to post an underlying profit in the first three months of the year.

'Long haul back'

Virgin Atlantic, which lost 90m overall in the year to April, is hoping for a significantly improved performance this year, chief financial officer Julie Southern told the FT.

"It will be a long haul back," she said.

"We are driving to return to profitability this year, but it is still uncertain."

The carrier has credited its recovery to its focus on leisure, rather than business, travellers.

Virgin Atlantic cut capacity by about 20% following the 11 September strikes, and slashed fares in a bid to bolster passenger numbers.

See also:

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