Virgin Australia posts $93.8mln net loss for 2014/2015

Virgin Australia says cost reductions and the improved performance of its low-cost subsidiary Tigerair Australia have led to a reduced full year loss of $93.8 million for 2014/15.

The company reported a statutory net loss after tax of $93.8 million for the 12 months to June 30 2015, a $261.8 million improvement from the $355.6 million net loss in the prior corresponding period.

For the fourth quarter, or three months to June 30, the statutory net loss was $17.8 million, compared with a $178.2 million net loss in the prior corresponding quarter, Virgin said on Wednesday.

“The result represents a significant year on year improvement in performance for the seasonally weaker June quarter and we expect to see a continued positive trajectory,” Virgin chief financial officer Sankar Narayan said in a statement.

“The key highlights in this result have been our performance on non-fuel costs, success in attracting high yielding market segments and the improved performance of Tigerair Australia.”

On an underlying basis, which the airline regarded as the best indicator of financial performance, Virgin posted an underlying loss before tax of $49 million for 2014/15, an improvement of $213 million from the prior year.

The result was better than market expectations of an underlying loss in excess of $60 million for the year.

The underlying loss for the fourth quarter was $36.9 million, down from $83.1 million in the prior corresponding quarter.

Virgin said yields, or average airfares per passenger, were higher in the fourth quarter of 2014/15 compared with the prior corresponding period across the airline group and in the key Australian domestic market.

Meanwhile, the company said ineffective fuel hedging and restructuring and transaction costs totalled $24.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014/15.

And underlying cost per available seat kilometre excluding fuel “continued to decline”, Virgin said.

Virgin moved to quarterly reporting of its financial results to be in line with one of its major shareholders Singapore Airlines (SIA). The company will publish more details about it 2014/15 financial results on August 7.

SIA, which accounts for Virgin’s financial performance in its own quarterly reporting, was due to publish its latest results on later on Wednesday.

Tigerair, which is 100 per cent owned by Virgin, recorded an underlying loss before tax of $9.8 million for the three months to June 30, down from a loss of $25.8 million in the prior corresponding period, Virgin said.

“This result was driven by continued improvement in unit revenues and cost efficiencies,” Virgin said.

Qantas, which is tipped to post a statutory net profit above $600 million for 2014/15 according to market estimates, hands down its full year results on August 20.

On the capacity front, Virgin carried 1.6 per cent fewer domestic passengers in the three months to June 30 2015 compared with the prior corresponding quarter, with load factors falling 1.6 percentage points to 72.7 per cent. Virgin reduced capacity, measured by the number of available seats, half a per cent in the fourth quarter.

On the international front, Virgin the number of revenue passengers dropped 3.4 per cent, while load factors fell to 76.9 per cent, from 79.3 per cent previously.

Tigerair, which only flies domestically in Australia but was expected to be used on international short-haul routes at some point in the future, posted a 3.2 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the fourth quarter, resulting in load factors rising 4.7 per cent to 82.4 per cent. Capacity, as measured by available seat kilometres, rose 6.8 per cent.

Virgin shares were up about half a per cent at 44.7 cents in early trade on Wedneday.


Australian Aviation

Boeing Celebrates Jin Air’s First Direct-Delivered Next-Generation 737-800

SEATTLE, July 27, 2015 – Boeing [NYSE:BA] and Jin Air today celebrated the airline’s first direct-delivered Next-Generation 737-800 in Seattle.

Jin Air is the low-cost affiliated company of Korean Air. Today’s delivery marks the 13th Boeing 737-800 to join Jin Air’s all-Boeing fleet. The airline currently serves 16 routes in Asia and operates a total of 15 airplanes, including two 777-200ERs.


Boeing Website

South Korean forestry experts visit Korea DPR

A group of forestry experts and officials from a South Korean operator of an inter-Korean tour program visited a North Korean mountain on the east coast Wednesday to check pine trees damaged apparently by a drought.

Eight officials from the state-run Korea Forest Research Institute and Hyundai Asan crossed the inter-Korean border earlier in the day for a three-day visit to look into what went wrong with the pine trees at Mount Kumgang, according to the Unification Ministry.

“Some pine trees at the mountain withered and turned yellow,” a ministry official told reporters on Tuesday. “A recent drought that hit the North may be blamed for that, but more probing is needed.”

A joint survey on the pine trees kicked off at the request of the North, which has been grappling with what it called the worst drought in 100 years.

Sitting on the east coast near the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, Mount Kumgang is famous for its scenic views, including impressive peaks and thickly grown pine trees.

Hyundai Asan kicked off a joint tour program at Mount Kumgang in 1998, a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, attracting some 2 million South Korean visitors until it was put on hold.

Seoul suspended the tour program in 2008, after the shooting death of a South Korean female tourist by a North Korean solider at the resort.

Pyongyang has called for the resumption of the tour program, which once served as one of the few legitimate revenue sources for the cash-strapped country.

“The mountain is an asset that we need to protect together. The Seoul government is also seeking to promote cooperation in the area of forestation with the North,” the official said. “In that sense, the government plans to take necessary action after an outcome of the survey comes out.”

But the official said that the probe into the trees has nothing to do with a possible resumption of the joint tour program. (Yonhap)

The Korea Herald

Korea DPR completes upgrade of rocket site, shows no signs of launch preparations yet

File:Flag-map of North Korea.svg

North Korea has completed construction to upgrade its main rocket launch facility, but is still showing no signs of preparations to launch a long-range rocket or missile from the facility, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday.

The website 38 North made the assessment citing recent satellite imagery of the North’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station.

South Korean officials said last week the North completed upgrading the facility to enable it to handle bigger rockets, and a launch could come around the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party in October.

“There are still no indications at Sohae that test preparations are underway to support a long-range SLV (satellite launch vehicle) launch. There is also no public evidence to suggest that a decision has been made by the leadership in Pyongyang to move forward with a launch,” 38 North said in a report.

“In the coming weeks, if preparations are indeed underway, we would expect to see other on-the ground indications at Sohae, including increased rail activity and the possible arrival of missile related railcars, activity at facilities associated with rocket assembly,” it said.

38 North said the North has completed all construction work at the facility.

“It appears that the SLV stages and payload can be prepared horizontally in a new launch support building at the end of the pad, then transferred to a movable support structure that is several stories high, where they will be erected vertically, checked out and finally moved to the launch tower,” the report said.

Imagery of the facility’s engine test stand also showed that preparations were underway, as of July 21, for “an engine test in the near-term,” including the presence of a movable crane and probable ground support equipment, the report said.

Also Tuesday, a North Korean diplomat left open the possibility of a rocket launch.

When asked about the possibility of the North conducting a launch around October, the country’s deputy chief of mission to the United Nations, Amb. Jang Il-hun, said he does not “rule out any possibility of doing one of these things,” according to a news report.

North Korea is believed to have developed advanced ballistic missile technologies through a series of test launches, including a 2012 launch that succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit. That test is considered the most successful so far.

That test sparked fears that the North has moved closer to ultimately developing nuclear-tipped missiles that could potentially reach the mainland U.S. The country has so far conducted three underground nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009 and 2013. (Yonhap)

The Korea Herald