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Branson bails out Virgin Express (Brussels)

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Branson bails out Virgin Express (Brussels)

Old 30th Mar 2001, 12:30
  #1 (permalink)  
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Post Branson bails out Virgin Express (Brussels)

This comes from the FT this morning...


Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group was forced to extend an emergency credit facility for Virgin Express, its troubled low-fare airline subsidiary, as the carrier struggled to survive amid mounting losses.

The existence of the $32.5m credit facility from Barfair, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Group Investments, was revealed on Thursday as the Brussels-based airline, which is 59 per cent owned by Virgin Group, said that net losses last year jumped more than ten-fold to E65.2m from E5.7m in 1999.

Virgin Express said it had drawn down $19.5m of the loan facility by the end of last year but executive chairman David Hoare insisted that its restructuring efforts were on course to turn the company around.

Last year's losses included a E17.5m restructuring charge to cover a radical shrinking of the company as it struggled under the burden of intense competition at its main Brussels base; a fuel bill which nearly doubled; and the weakness of the euro.

The company's response was to cut unprofitable routes, halve the size of its fleet and get out of the charter business. It also said it would try to sell or close its Irish operation. The airline has so far found no buyer.

Operating losses climbed to E46.7m from E7.3m in 1999, as the restructuring led to a slight fall in revenue to E289m.

Virgin Express expressed concern about the continued uncertainty about Sabena's future. Speculation is growing that Switzerland's SAirGroup, which has huge problems of its own, is looking to divest its 49.5 per cent stake.

The most profitable part of Virgin Express' business is a deal in which it operates the Brussels-London route for Sabena. The Belgian flag carrier is currently trying to renegotiate the terms of that deal.

Mr Hoare also said he had "made strong representations" to both the Belgian government and the European Commission about a recent decision by the state to inject E100m into Sabena as part of its restructuring. "This unfair subsidy must not be allowed to continue," he said.

Old 30th Mar 2001, 16:31
  #2 (permalink)  
piston broke
Posts: n/a

Virgin Express associated with Barfair?

How very appropriate.

Gone by midsummer, see if I'm wrong.

Old 30th Mar 2001, 20:24
  #3 (permalink)  
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No money to be made on that bet.........last one out turns the lights out!
Old 31st Mar 2001, 00:55
  #4 (permalink)  
Wing Commander Fowler
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Blows the candles out more like - the electricity will have been cutoff well before the summers out and "Hell slap it into them". I wouldn't work for Branson again if he was the last tosser in the world (instead of the biggest tosser as he is now).

I'm finger lickin'
Old 1st Apr 2001, 07:10
  #5 (permalink)  
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It will be interesting to see how Virgin Blue in Oz goes in the next few months.
Old 1st Apr 2001, 15:32
  #6 (permalink)  
Billy the Kid
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Red face

I wonder how much of that loss was spent on the new uniforms. I also understand they have crewing problems, both Cabin and Flight Deck. The funny thing is TVN has been working flat out till the end on Monday.

BTW hopefully the Ireland thread will be red-hot after Mondays meeting?
Old 1st Apr 2001, 15:41
  #7 (permalink)  
Wing Commander Fowler
Posts: n/a

'twill be roastin' Billy..... to be sure.

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