Australia's second largest airline, Virgin, posts $333 million loss for 'difficult' year



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SYDNEY — Australia's second largest airline, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd., said on Friday it lost 356 million Australian dollars ($333 million) in its last fiscal year, a three-fold increase over the previous year.

The results for the year through June 2014 followed a AU$98 loss the previous year. The company blamed excess market capacity due to competition from its larger rival Qantas Airways Ltd., weak consumer sentiment and the AU$52 million cost of Australia's carbon tax.

"The 2014 Financial Year has seen one of the most difficult operating environments in the history of Australian aviation," Virgin chief executive John Borghetti said in a statement.

Qantas on Thursday posted a AU$2.8 billion loss for the year, due largely to AU$2.6 billion in aircraft write downs.

Virgin announced on Friday that it had sold a 35 percent stake in its frequent flyer program to private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for AU$960 million.

The government in July repealed the carbon tax that had been levied on Australia's largest corporate greenhouse gas polluters for two years.

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