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Virgin is relying on its Delta Air Lines’ tie-up and increased focus on business travel to take it to profitability by 2015.

U.K. billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. posted a full-year loss of 69.9 million pounds ($107 million), hurt by higher costs, sluggish economies and a dip in business travel during the Olympic Games.

The main airline division had a loss of 93 million pounds, which was partially offset by a one-time gain of 35.4 million pounds and a 23.1 million-pound contribution from other units.

Virgin, which aims to boost earnings via a trans-Atlantic alliance with new shareholder Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), reiterated plans for a return to profit by spring 2015. The passenger total increased by 188,000 to 5.5 million in the 12 months ended Feb. 28 and the company is targeting savings of 45 million pounds this fiscal year, mainly from computer and e-commerce functions.

“Last year saw a double dip recession, a continued weak macro economy, and an Olympic Games which, although a fantastic event, severely dented demand for business travel,” said Chief Executive Officer Craig Kreeger, who took over on Feb. 1.

Revenue at the Crawley, England-based company, which competes with British Airways (IAG)at London’s Heathrow airport, increased 5 percent to 2.87 billion pounds and the load factor, a measure of seat occupancy, gained 1.3 points to 79 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Jasper in London at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at [email protected].

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Tags: branson, earnings, virgin atlantic

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