Delivery of Boeing’s troubled 787 aircraft will be crucial to Virgin Atlantic’s aim of returning to profitability by 2015, according to the airline’s president Sir Richard Branson.

Speaking to Travel Weekly during the inaugural celebrations for Virgin’s domestic offshoot Little Red in Edinburgh, Branson said he felt the target was viable and dependent on the integration of more cost-effective aircraft.

“As long as the 787s don’t get delayed again, there is every chance that it can be possible,” he said.

Virgin is due to take delivery of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner in late summer 2014 as part of a wider fleet overhaul. It also hopes to boost revenue with the launch of Little Red services from Heathrow to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester and through an expected tie-up with Delta Air Lines in the US.

Virgin’s new chief executive Craig Kreeger believes the airline can transform a loss, expected to be about £130 million for the financial year to February 2013, into a profit within two years.

“(To return to profit) our strategy includes trying to find new sources of revenue, and that includes creating connectivity through Little Red and through the relationship with Delta,” said Kreeger.

“We have made some tough decisions, including a pay freeze for staff, but we have to ensure that no decisions are made at the expense of the customer or our people.”

The two airlines filed an application with the US Department of Transportation seeking antitrust immunity for their joint venture this week.

Speaking about the appointment of former American Airlines executive Kreeger, Branson said: “Craig has a lot of experience in the States, and through the Delta deal the States is going to play a bigger and bigger role in Virgin Atlantic’s future.”