WestJet, Air Canada post record October passenger levels

Mon Nov 5, 2012 4:53pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's two largest airlines flew with record-setting passenger levels in October, as Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Inc kept a tight grip on capacity, while smaller, regional carrier Porter Airlines reported a slump from last year's levels.

Air Canada, the country's biggest carrier, said on Monday that its October load factor, or percentage of available seats filled with paying customers, rose 3.5 percentage points to a record 82.9 percent.

The Montreal-based airline, which reports quarterly financial results on Thursday, said traffic increased 4.9 percent as capacity grew just 0.4 percent.

"This record load factor for the month and strong traffic results overall underscore the effectiveness of our ongoing disciplined approach to managing capacity," Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu said.

Air Canada's year-to-date load factor has improved to 83.2 percent from 82.1 percent in the same period last year. Traffic is up 2.4 percent, while capacity is 1.1 percent higher.

Calgary, Alberta-based WestJet, the country's No. 2 airline, said its planes had record-setting passenger levels in October for the fourth straight month.

WestJet said its load factor rose to 81.2 percent from 77.4 percent a year earlier. Traffic increased 5.9 percent as capacity rose just 0.9 percent.

"Forward bookings remain healthy and momentum continues at WestJet," said Chief Executive Gregg Saretsky.

Shares of the airline, which reports third-quarter financial results on Wednesday, added 9 Canadian cents to close at C$17.90 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday.   Continued...

A West Jet Boeing 737-700 aircraft (top) passes an Air Canada plane while arriving at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Andy Clark