Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s volumes rose 1.8 percent in what the carrier called a “challenging market environment.” Overall, the airline carried 218,000 tonnes of cargo across its international network for the calendar year.
A strong second half of the year and high peak-season demand helped boost volumes, although John Lloyd, senior vice president of cargo at Virgin Atlantic, noted that, “the impact of overcapacity on yields and the falling value of sterling were major factors” on the lower yields reported. He added that, “we also saw a reduction in revenues due to route changes driven by passenger demand.”
December’s volumes were up 5 percent, year-over-year, and revenue was 16 percent above target, adding a final boost to the year’s numbers.
Virgin accredited its 64 percent cargo load factor to increased pharmaceutical and e-commerce business. The carrier’s trans-Atlantic joint venture with Delta Air Lines also boosted volumes.
Longer-term, the airline’s cargo business should benefit from Virgin Atlantic’s order in 2016 for 12 cargo-friendly Airbus A350-1000s. When deliveries commence in early 2019, the A350 will “offer a significant improvement in lower deck cargo capacity of between 10 percent and 22 percent, depending on configuration,” the airline said.