WestJet to offer "premium economy" seats, posts higher profit

Wed Aug 1, 2012 9:17am EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO: Quote), Canada's No. 2 airline, reported a bigger second-quarter profit on Wednesday and said it will introduce "premium economy" seating across its fleet in a bid to grow revenue.

The Calgary, Alberta-based carrier will begin reconfiguring its Boeing 737 fleet to add extra leg room starting in August and expects to complete the work by year's end. More details will be announced soon, it added.

For the quarter ended June 30, WestJet said net income rose to C$42.5 million, or 31 Canadian cents a share, from C$25.6 million, or 18 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

The result lagged the average analyst forecast for profit of 33 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Second-quarter costs per available seat mile, excluding fuel and employee profit share, rose 4.8 percent. That was outpaced by growth in revenue per available seat mile, which jumped 6 percent.

WestJet, which said its plans to launch a regional carrier in the second half of 2013 remain on track, said quarterly revenue rose to C$809 million from C$742.3 million.

The airline also raised its quarterly dividend to 8 Canadian cents per share.

(Reporting By Susan Taylor, additional reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)