Air Canada, WestJet planes fuller in June, Porter declines

Thu Jul 5, 2012 5:44pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's dominant airlines, Air Canada ACb.TO and WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO: Quote), flew fuller planes in June, while smaller regional carrier Porter Airlines reported slightly emptier flights than a year earlier.

Air Canada, the country's biggest carrier, said on Thursday that its June load factor, or the percentage of available seats filled with paying customers, rose to a record 85.6 percent from 84.2 percent in the same month last year.

Traffic increased 1.5 percent as capacity, measured in available seat miles, declined 0.1 percent.

"This record load factor result for the month also demonstrates the effectiveness of our strategy to manage capacity to ensure high efficiency," Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.

The load factor on Atlantic routes increased to 89.2 percent from 86.3 percent, while Pacific routes remained strong, with the load factor notching higher to 93 percent from 92.6 percent.

Calgary-based WestJet said its June load factor rose to 79 percent from 75.7 percent a year earlier, as traffic increased 6.7 percent and capacity grew just 2.3 percent.

WestJet also said reservations remain strong for the July and Augusts, the two busiest months of the year for Canadian airlines.

WestJet's second-quarter load factor rose to a record 81.6 percent from 78.1 percent in the year-before period. Quarterly traffic increased 7.4 percent as capacity rose just 2.9 percent.

"With WestJet indicating that forward bookings remain strong for July and August, we expect yields to support its outlook for slightly moderated growth relative to the 6 percent growth rate in Q1," said National Bank Financial analyst Cameron Doerksen in a note.   Continued...