Virgin Atlantic has said a difficult year was to blame for the airline posting its first loss since 2013.

The pre-tax loss of £28.4 million is in stark contrast to the £23 million profit recorded in 2016, while group revenue was down 1 per cent to £2.7 billion.

CEO Craig Kreeger has attributed the loss to a weaker pound, Rolls Royce engine part supply problems and the severe disruption in the Caribbean caused by hurricane season, which is still causing trouble for some islands.

Capacity fell 2.2 per cent, while passenger numbers dropped slightly to 5.3 million from 5.4 million in 2016.

However, cargo revenue was up 9.3 per cent to £199.3 million thanks to a 5.8 per cent growth in tonnage.

Kreeger said Virgin Atlantic expected to make losses in 2017 and that the airline expects challenges to continue in 2018, with the UK still facing uncertainty in the face of Brexit.

The airline, which is part owned by Delta, is in the midst of a ten-year fleet replacement programme set to be complete by 2021, with 12 A350s due for delivery next year.

Virgin Atlantic recently announced it would release three new economy fares this spring and has confirmed its second daily service to Johannesburg starting in October will feature the economy delight, classic and light fare types.

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