Virgin Atlantic Cargo reported a healthy turnover of £225.3m for 2013, exceeding expectations in a challenging global market.

The year ended December 31st 2013 saw the airline achieve the highest ever average cargo load factor in its 30-year history of 76%, up 6% year-on-year and well ahead of the industry average.

Tonnage carried by Virgin Atlantic was 5% higher at 224,500 tonnes in 2013 in a market that declined 0.5% overall. Revenues were down 3% compared to the previous year, reflecting the airline’s 7% reduction in capacity over the year.

John Lloyd, Virgin Atlantic CargoJohn Lloyd, Director of Cargo for Virgin Atlantic, said: “Our 2013 results show that we outperformed the market for a second consecutive year and increased our share by 5% at a time when many of our major competitors’ businesses were in decline. The excessive amount of cargo capacity that started to return to the market in 2013 continued the downward pressure on yields but we have clearly been more successful in managing this challenge than many other carriers.”

Asia Pacific produced Virgin Atlantic’s biggest cargo gains in 2013 with a 12% increase in tonnage and a 3% rise in revenues. Tonnage on its Americas network was 5% higher and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region grew 3%.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Craig Kreeger commented: “Virgin Atlantic has made good progress in 2013. Our cargo business has again made a valuable contribution to the airline and demonstrated its ability to grow despite a continued stagnation in the global freight market.”

During the year Virgin Atlantic achieved particularly strong gains on its Mumbai-London route with year-on-year gains of 24% and 44% in November and December indicating increased growth potential for 2014. Garment shipments were higher and the airline saw increased pharmaceutical and perishable shipments to and from India. Other strong contributors to the airline’s cargo performance were its ex Caribbean routes during the first quarter of the year and flights from Newark to the UK. Services from London to Boston, Miami and Vancouver also reported above-average tonnage improvements.

Shipments of fresh salmon to destinations including New York, Shanghai, Dubai and Johannesburg and the carriage of perishables from the U.S., Australia and South Africa in the first six months of the year contributed over 16,000 tonnes of cargo toward Virgin Atlantic’s total 2013 uplift.

Virgin Atlantic says its key priorities for 2014 will be its e-AWB and Cargo 2000 quality programmes as well as increasing the development of its joint venture with Delta Cargo to benefit customers on both sides of the Atlantic. “In the future we hope our customers will be able to benefit from enhanced frequencies on some of the most popular routes, new destinations, new products and services and more convenient joint drop-off and collection points,” John added.

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