Virgin Atlantic says on track for 2014 return to profit

LONDON, Sept 3 Wed Sep 3, 2014 5:54am EDT

LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Britain's Virgin Atlantic said it was on track to make an annual profit by the end of this year, after two years of running at a loss, and announced plans to increase its focus on trans-Atlantic routes to help boost future earnings.

The airline, which is 51 percent owned by its British billionaire founder Richard Branson and 49 percent owned by U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines, has been targeting a return to profit under a two year turnaround plan.

To help secure "record profitability" by 2018, the airline said on Wednesday that it planned to increase the number of routes between Britain and the U.S., historically its key market, while discontinuing some services to Asian and African destinations.

"The intended changes will enable Virgin Atlantic to better utilise its fleet by flying routes which deliver maximum profit or strategic importance," the company said in a statement. (Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton)