Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic has taken a step towards profitability by halving its losses.

The Virgin Atlantic Group made a pre-tax loss of £51m in 2013 compared with a pre-tax loss of £102m in 2012.

Virgin, in which American carrier Delta took a 49% stake last year, had a group turnover 4.9% higher last year than in 2012, while airline revenue rose 3.6%.

Virgin carried nearly 6.2 million passengers in 2013, with its first class passenger numbers increasing 1.8% and its premium economy passengers rising 7.5%.

Virgin Atlantic's chief executive Craig Kreeger said: "The group has made good progress in 2013 towards our target of a return to profitability by the end of this year.

Virgin Holidays' revenue rose 8.1% last year.

"We have implemented a programme of measures which put in place firm foundations for future success and our results to this point show that we are delivering against our plan," Mr Kreeger added.