Virgin Australia has gone further into the red, making a $49 million loss for the first half of the financial year.
The downbeat guidance comes months after the airline reported a $98 million loss in the 2013 financial year amid turbulence in the local aviation industry.
Virgin is locked in a battle for domestic market share with rival Qantas which recently flagged a $300 million first half loss, prompting ratings agencies to downgrade its credit rating to junk status.
In a statement on Thursday, Virgin said it expects to post a before tax loss of $49 million for the six months to December 31, which would compare to a $61 million pre-tax profit in the previous corresponding period.
However, the airline’s share price has risen, adding 2.2 cents, or 7.1 per cent, to 34 cents by 1500 AEDT, as the company’s forecast is better than what some analysts had been expecting.
The forecast excludes its share of losses incurred by Tigerair, which it acquired in July 2013, and other one-off restructuring costs.
Virgin’s guidance came in a response to a query from market operator ASX about a fall in the airline’s share price on Wednesday.
The shares dropped to 28 cents on Wednesday, down from 35 cents on Monday, amid higher than normal trading volumes.
Virgin said some investors may have mistaken its stock for Virgin Atlantic, which has announced it will axe its sole Australian service because increasing costs and weak revenues have made it unprofitable.
“We have received feedback that this has caused some confusion in the market with people mistakenly assuming that Virgin Atlantic is the same entity as Virgin Australia,” the company said.
Volatility on worldwide markets over the past 48 hours could have also had a flow on impact on local markets, with a trend for selling down cyclical stocks, it said.
Between Monday and Wednesday rival Qantas’ shares fell 5.5 per cent.
At 1500 AEDT Qantas shares were one cent higher at $1.04.
Australia’s local aviation industry faces competition from lower-cost Asian carriers, a tough global economic environment and high oil prices.
Last year Virgin attributed its 2012/13 loss to a difficult economic and competitive environment, one-off restructuring costs, and the carbon tax.
Virgin’s audited financial results will be released on February 28.