Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s revenue in 2018 grew 13% to £222 million (US$290 million), its strongest revenue performance in the last five years.
According to Virgin, it also transported more than 244,000 tonnes of cargo during the year, a year-on-year growth of 6% and the airline’s best result since 2010.
Virgin saw growth across most of the commodities flown, with high-value segments such as pharmaceuticals seeing a 50% year-on-year increase in volume. During the year, the airline set new records for tonnage from the UK and the US, as well as on direct services from cities including Delhi and Los Angeles. In December, Virgin set a new record for daily import and export volumes through the London Heathrow hub.
“2018 was an amazing year for us in terms of growth,” said Dominic Kennedy, managing director of cargo at Virgin Atlantic. “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.”
Virgin continued to deliver benefits for customers through its trans-Atlantic joint venture with Delta Cargo as well as its longstanding cargo sales and management agreement with Virgin Australia, which added capacity for e-commerce and other cargo with the launch of a daily non-stop flight between Sydney and Hong Kong in July.
Virgin introduced a second daily flight to Johannesburg at the end of October, contributing to a 15% year-on-year increase in volumes on the route and a 22% boost to Heathrow-Johannesburg revenues.
“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,” said Kennedy. “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.”
In 2019, Virgin Atlantic Cargo is set to offer additional capacity with the arrival of the airline’s first four Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and the launch of non-stop flights to Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo.
A new cargo facility with Delta Cargo scheduled to open at Heathrow later this year will double the size of the joint operation at the airport to 335,000 square feet, according to Virgin Atlantic.