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Virgin Atlantic SWOT: 2019 a pivotal year for the 35 year old airline

Virgin Atlantic is due to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000, the first of 12 on order, on 1-May-2019 (source: CAPA Fleet Database). The A350s will fulfil Virgin's aim of operating only twin engine aircraft by 2021, completing the exit of its ageing four engine Boeing 747 and A340 aircraft. This process has been under way over the past four years, with Boeing 787-9s replacing part of the older fleet.

A more modern fleet should provide benefits in terms of cost efficiency, customer experience and the economic feasibility of new routes. After reporting its fifth net loss in seven years in 2018, Virgin certainly needs to improve its performance.

Virgin Atlantic reaches its 35th birthday in 2019, in a pivotal year for the UK's second largest widebody operator. Its majority control by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is set to end with the completion of the sale of a 31% stake to Air France-KLM. In addition, the widening of Virgin's North Atlantic JV with its 49% shareholder Delta to embrace Air France and KLM is also expected to complete this year. In addition, the regional airline Flybe's network will be taken under the Virgin Atlantic brand.

This report considers Virgin Atlantic's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

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