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Virgin Atlantic reports doubling of profit

British Airways rival doesn't comment on antitrust probe

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
Last Update: 9:00 AM ET Jun 26, 2006

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Trans-Atlantic carrier Virgin Atlantic on Monday said fiscal-year profit more than doubled as it attracted more business customers and as fuel surcharges helped negate the impact of oil price rises.

BAB said profit in the fiscal year to Feb. 28 before exceptional items and tax rose to 41.6 million pounds ($76 million) from 20.1 million pounds, with revenue up 17% to 1.91 billion pounds.

Virgin didn't release data on more conventional profit figures. It said it attracted 10.1% more business travelers than a year ago, with overall traffic up 11% to 4.9 million people. Virgin also said it will award an average of 620 pounds per employee due to its profitability.

Virgin, majority owned by the entrepreneur Richard Branson with Singapore Airlines owning the remaining 49%, didn't comment on a probe by the Office of Fair Trade and the U.S. Department of Justice into charges levied by the trans-Atlantic carriers operating out of London.

Virgin allegedly tipped off the OFT that BA spokesman Iain Burns asked what Virgin would do if BA raised its fuel surcharge. Read archived story.

BA and Virgin each charge 70 pounds per roundtrip flight to the U.S. to compensate for oil prices that are hovering around $70 a barrel.

Virgin on Monday also said it will start flying to Mauritius, from late 2007, to expand in the leisure market.
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Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.
 
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