Virgin Atlantic Cargo achieved its strongest revenue performance in the last five years in 2018, as revenue grew 13% year-on-year to £222 million.
The achievement was supported by a 6% annual growth in volume to more than 244,000 tonnes, the airline’s best result since 2010.
The year saw a succession of best-ever monthly and route performances, with growth achieved across the majority of commodities flown, with high value segments such as pharmaceuticals seeing a 50% year-on-year increase in volume. During the year, the airline achieved new records for tonnage from the UK and the US, as well as on direct services from cities including Delhi and Los Angeles. December also saw Virgin Atlantic’s highest-ever daily import and export volumes through London Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic and its customers continued to enjoy more benefits from its transatlantic joint venture with Delta Cargo as well as from the growth of revenues and volumes generated for Virgin Australia’s expanding long-haul international network through the airlines’ longstanding sales and management agreement. In 2018, Virgin Australia extended its network with the launch of daily Sydney-Hong Kong services in July, adding much-needed capacity on the route, especially for the buoyant e-commerce market.
The introduction of double daily Johannesburg services by Virgin Atlantic at the end of October also contributed to a 15% increase in volumes on the route year-on-year and a 22% boost to Heathrow-Johannesburg revenues.
Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director, Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, commented: “2018 was an amazing year for us in terms of growth. We achieved particularly strong growth from June onwards, resulting in the best Q4 performance in our 34-year history, with positive contributions from across our network and partnerships. As an airline that is passionate about customer service, it is also a tribute to our entire cargo team that, during such a busy year for volumes, we achieved our highest-ever score for customer experience. This was helped by the opening of our new Service Centres in Atlanta and Johannesburg, improved flown-as-booked performance, and closer engagement with our handling and joint venture partners. This result gives us the momentum we need to deliver a game-changing year for our cargo business in 2019.”
2019 will see a series of new investments which promise more benefits for Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s customers. These include the additional capacity that will be provided by the arrival of the airline’s first four Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, a prime new route for cargo to Tel Aviv – and, just announced for 2020, São Paulo, Brazil, the move to a new state-of-the-art facility at Heathrow with partner Delta Cargo – doubling the size of the joint cargo operation at the airport to 335,000 sq ft – and, investments in new digital technologies to give customers a suite of self-service options to make Virgin Atlantic even easier to do business with.