Virgin Express blames Ryanair for profits slump

Virgin Express, the airline owned by Richard Branson, has cited Ryanair as a main contributor for a 63% slump in profit for the third quarter.

Virgin Express, the airline owned by Richard Branson, has cited Ryanair as a main contributor for a 63% slump in profit for the third quarter.

The budget airline said it posted a "very modest" net profit of €1.68m for the period.

The company blamed the result, which it said is equal to €2.5 per passenger, on over capacity in Belgium and on the "illegal" subsidies that Ryanair receives at Brussels Charleroi.

"The fundamental problem of the Belgian market is a combination of overcapacity with consequent uneconomic discounting of fares and, we believe, illegal subsidies," Virgin Express said.

Virgin Express competes against Ryanair on services from Belgium to destinations such as Barcelona, Rome, London and Venice.

Sales for the period fell 8% to €62.07m from €67.5m the year before, mainly due to a 52% decline in its charter activities, it said.

Sales on regular flights fell 6% due to the "continuing economic slowdown".

The EU decision on whether Ryanair received illegal subsidies is expected in the next few weeks.

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