Virgin Money

Virgin bits: VA announces 2018 loss, no more miles from West Coast rail, Jet Airways partnership on the rocks

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News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic announces a loss for 2018

Virgin Atlantic announced a £26m loss for 2018 yesterday, following a £49m loss in 2017.

Underlying numbers were more promising, with revenue rising by 5.8% to £2.78bn, passenger numbers growing by just under 5% to 5.4 million and revenue per customer rising by 1.7%.

The two core issues were the weakness of Sterling, given that jet fuel is priced in US$, and the continuing problems with the Boeing 787-9 fleet, much of which remains grounded due to problems with the Rolls-Royce engines.

(Whilst we didn’t cover it on HFP, Rolls-Royce faced a new round of engine issues last week when Singapore Airlines grounded two Boeing 787-10 aircraft due to signs of engine turbine blade cracking.  This implies that the issue is not unique to the Boeing 787-9 fleet.)

Virgin Atlantic has warned that it does not expect to make financial progress in 2019 but that it should break even in 2020 and then return to profitability.  The new A350-1000 aircraft are substantially cheaper to fly than the older aircraft they replace.

Here is a link to the 2018 Annual Report if you want to find out more.

One interesting fact – over 100,000 people have signed up to the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards in the first 12 months and over £1bn has been spent.

Virgin Atlantic new A350 upper class

No more Flying Club miles from rail as West Coast franchise lost

Virgin Trains will be losing the contract to operate West Coast trains as early as November.  

Stagecoach, which partners with Virgin Group to run the West Coast contract, was disqualified from all UK rail franchise bids yesterday.  This means that it is now out of the running to win a further extension to the West Coast deal.  Abellio will take over East Midlands Trains, which Stagecoach currently runs on a stand-alone basis.

The fall-out is over the £6bn funding gap in the Railways Pension Scheme.  In theory, the train operating companies are liable for much of this even though most of the deficit was incurred before privatisation.

The pensions regulator can, at any point, demand that the funding gap be reduced.  Stagecoach was not willing to bid for rail contracts if it felt that it could be asked – on any random day – to hand over hundreds of millions pounds towards the deficit.  This led to the Government disqualifying all of the current Stagecoach bids yesterday.

You can currently earn Virgin Flying Club miles, or Nectar points, when you book West Coast train tickets and book directly with Virgin Trains.  There is little chance of Flying Club miles being offered by whoever takes over the contract – which could be as soon as November – although there is a chance that Nectar remains given that it partners with numerous rail operators.

You can find out more about earning miles with West Coast here.

Virgin Trains loses West Coast franchise

The end is near for Jet Airways – another great Virgin redemption dies

One of the best Virgin Flying Club redemptions is the Jet Airways flight from Amsterdam to Toronto, which is a continuation of a flight from Delhi (Jet’s base) to Amsterdam.

We wrote about the Jet Airways / Virgin Flying Club partnership here.  Between Toronto and Amsterdam, a one-way flight costs 20,500 Virgin miles in Economy, 41,000 Virgin miles in Business and 60,000 Virgin miles in the First Class suites.  Taxes are minimal.

Unfortunately, Jet Airways is now in a terminal financial position.  Much of its fleet has already been handed back to the leasing companies – the last report I saw said that only 28 of its 110 aircraft were still operating.

Whilst the Delhi – Amsterdam – Toronto flight has been operating, the aircraft was impounded in Amsterdam yesterday as a result of unpaid bills.  There are also reports that half of the remaining fleet has been deregistered with immediate effect.

The bottom line is that you certainly shouldn’t look to book a Flying Club redemption on Jet Airways now and, if you are booked already, you should start looking for alternatives.

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  1. The RR engine problems have never been limited to 789 aircraft, there have been plenty of 788s affected too. The same engine can be used on both aircraft. Hence why BJE (a 788) was parked up near the BA hangar for so long.

  2. Prins Polo says:

    VA is Virgin Australia I believe.

  3. Anyone know the answer to this?

    I have a return ticket with JetAirways next week. Flying outbound with JetAirways and inbound with Etihad on a JetAirways codeshare ticket number.
    If/when JetAirways go bust, is my inbound flight safe as I’m on an Etihad flight..?

    Etihad customer care on Twitter confirmed that my flight was confirmed currently but refused to answer the above question. Been on hold to JetAirways for hours (well they hung up after an hour & I’ve been on hold for another hour since).


  4. Ok thanks

  5. I’m due to fly with Jet and of month Delhi to Amsterdam booked using Virgin miles. When I spoke to virgin over a month ago about Jet’s financial trouble and asked what will happen if the flight was cancelled or airline went bust, they said they’d reboook me with another airline. I still didn’t leave it to chance and booked a virgin redemption from Delhi to London for the day before. Worst case scenario I lose $50 towards cancellation of Virgin flight if my Jet flight flies fine.

    I just need to book a London to Amsterdam backup flight now.

    Also, what worries me is that if Jet flies, it’ll be a very horrible atmosphere. All staff including pilots haven’t been paid for months, and more recently Jet has stopped all IFE from all their flights.

    Interestingly I got an email today to say that the flight departure time has changed from 2.10am to 1.10am while the arrival time remains the same.

    I’m just hoping my flight gets cancelled and virgin rebook me on the KLM flight that departs the same day.

  6. Catman99 says:

    OT my BA flight from BKK to LHR is delayed so my same ticket flight to AMS has been pushed back by a day. Do I still have to take that flight to receive EU261 compensation or can I just go home as I will have missed my meeting anyway?

  7. Scallder says:

    That didn’t last long – all Jet Airways international flights cancelled!

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