Space tourism provider Virgin Galactic has hinted that commercial flights aboard the company’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle are unlikely to begin in 2020.
On a February 25 conference call, Virgin Galactic executives presented the company’s 2019 financials and outlined its path forward for the coming year. During the call, chief executive George Whitesides hinted that the company was unlikely to begin commercial flights this year.
“While we would like to have some commercial revenue this year, the main focus for this year, from a company and engineering perspective, is working to get the vehicles, and our operations, prepared for long-term, regular commercial service,” said Whitesides.
Despite casting doubt on the likelihood of beginning commercial flights in 2020, Whitesides affirmed that one of the company’s primary goals of this year is to “fly Richard Branson into space.”
Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 and has long stated he will be on the company’s first commercial flight. It is currently unclear if Branson will be the only passenger aboard this flight or if the additional seats will be filled.
In addition to revealing that the company may not begin commercial operations in 2020, Jonathan Campagna, Virgin Galactic’s chief financial officer, revealed that the company reported a net loss of nearly $211 million in 2019. This was only slightly offset by $3.8 million in revenue generated from carrying research payloads aboard SpaceShipTwo test flights.
In response to the conference call, Virgin Galactic stock dipped from a high of just over $37 early to a low of $31.80 yesterday. However, since the market opened this morning, the stock has been on an upward trend and is currently trading at $33.13.