February 16, 2017 / 9:56 PM / 5 months ago

Virgin Australia first-half profits drop, defers Boeing deliveries

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SYDNEY, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Virgin Australia on Friday posted a 48-percent fall in first-half underlying pre-tax earnings and deferred the delivery of new Boeing 737MAX aircraft after airfares tumbled due to tough conditions in the domestic aviation market.

Australia's second-biggest airline reported an underlying profit before tax of A$42.3 million ($32.55 million) for the six months ended Dec. 31, compared with A$81.5 million in the year-earlier period.

On a statutory basis, including restructuring charges associated with a cost-savings programme, it reported a loss of A$A21.5 million, compared with a A$62.5 million profit the year before. ($1 = 1.2997 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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