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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Profits double at Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340_600
Virgin will be launching a new London to Mauritius service
Airline firm Virgin Atlantic saw pre-tax profits more than double, hitting 41.6m ($75.8m) boosted by sales of business class tickets.

And the firm recorded like-for-like revenues of 1.9bn for the year to 28 February, up 17% on the year before.

Virgin also announced a new London to Mauritius service for 2007.

The results come after suggestions that Virgin tipped off UK and US authorities about alleged attempts at price-fixing at rival British Airways.

'Major issue'

Virgin is said to have heard from a BA executive about plans to increase BA's fuel charges. Under competition law, tipping off a rival about a price change is illegal.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway told BBC Radio Five Live the firm was "fully co-operating and assisting" with the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in its investigation.

The OFT is also working with the US Department of Justice on the inquiry.

The airline's increase in profits came despite a 30% rise in fuel costs. The company said it was overcoming this "by investing heavily in new products", including new aircraft and offering new services such as flights to India and the Caribbean.

And about half of the firm's increase in fuel costs had been offset by the fuel surcharges, said Mr Ridgway.

But he added: "We still have a major issue with fuel costs, which represent a huge proportion of our costs."

Meanwhile, the new London to Mauritius service will run twice a week from Gatwick from November next year, answering an "overwhelming demand from leisure passengers", said the firm's founder, Sir Richard Branson.


SEE ALSO
Virgin tip-off 'led to BA probe'
23 Jun 06 |  Business
BA investigated on fuel surcharge
22 Jun 06 |  Business
BA profits up on ticket increases
19 May 06 |  Business

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