Virgin Atlantic Group has almost doubled its pre-tax profits for the same period in which British Airways announced a £401 million loss.

The group today announced pre-tax profits of £68.4 million for the financial year ending March 31, up from £34.8 million in the previous year.

The profits were driven by an 8.4% sales increase to £2.6 billion, while passenger numbers increased to 5.8 million.

The announcement comes following BA’s admission last week that it has made the £401 million loss for the same financial year, having made a profit of £922 million the previous year.

President Sir Richard Branson said: “The last financial year has proven to be the most volatile in our 25-year history.

“To increase profits against a backdrop of such a severe recession is an excellent achievement by all of our staff at Virgin Atlantic.”

Chief executive Steve Ridgway added: “We are winning market share from our competitors during the toughest trading environment ever. With some of the lowest fares ever, consumers have never had it so good for so long.

“Our load factors remain resilient as travellers take advantage of these bargain fares, proving the value of vigorous competition.”