Companies

Virgin Atlantic close to pre-Covid level passenger load

Forum Gandhi | | Updated on: Dec 07, 2021
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The British airline increased revenue from the cargo segment during the pandemic

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Virgin Atlantic is not only managing to sustain operations but has also managed to grow its revenues. Over the past 20 months, Virgin Atlantic’s revenue share from the cargo segment has gone up from 10 per cent to 50 per cent. The British airline now operates pre-Covid level daily flights from India, and is inching closer to pre-Covid level passenger load factors, said a top official.

Speaking to BusinessLine , Alex McEwan - Country Manager, South Asia - Virgin Atlantic said that for the British airline, India was the third biggest market, and he sees a lot of growth potential because of the diaspora.

‘Urge to travel picking up’

“We have been resilient throughout. Despite all odds, we’ve sustained operations. We are seeing a good recovery, and the urge to travel is picking up. We’re seeing fuller flights and a better sentiment.”

He explained that in pre-Covid times, India used to operate daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai to London Heathrow. The airline used to fly with at least 85-90 per cent of its seats full. “Now, we’ve reached our pre-Covid level of frequency and our passenger load factor is close to pre-Covid times with approximately 80 per cent of our flights being full.”

Flight between India and Manchester

Two years ago, Virgin Atlantic’s country head had told this paper that the airline would start flight between India and Manchester. McEwan said that once the airline is able to reach and sustain pre-Covid level PLF, it would evaluate starting flights to Manchester, and add more Indian destinations connecting to London Heathrow. He also said that the airline will explore more code-share options, too.

Speaking about how the airline managed to sustain operations during Covid times, he said that the airline added more cargo capacity in order to curtail losses. “We realised that while the passenger traffic was hit badly, goods still needed to be transported. In order to maintain our presence in India, we carried cargo in the belly of the aircraft.”

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He said that globally for Virgin Atlantic, cargo stood at 10 per cent of the company’s overall revenue, however, post Covid this number went up to 50 per cent. “We are seeing a similar trend in India, too,” he said, adding that both Mumbai and Delhi were showing good results but, “Mumbai outperformed itself in terms of cargo,” he added.

Published on December 07, 2021

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