Air Canada pushes on with plan to cut costs, boost capacity

Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:48pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Air Canada ACb.TO said on Monday that it expected to cut costs by up to 15 percent in the medium term, even as it boosts capacity, because of lower maintenance expenses, a new-low cost carrier and the addition of tightly packed fuel-efficient planes.

As competition heats up, Canada's largest airline will increase capacity 9 percent to 11 percent in 2014, bulking up on international routes where it is keen to expand its business. For 2013, the company expects capacity to climb 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

In the first major expansion of its wide-body fleet in a decade, the Montreal-based airline will add five new high-density Boeing 777-300ER planes between June and February. In 2014, it will take delivery of the first seven of 37 Boeing 787 jets it has ordered.

The company also expects to increase capacity with the start of its Rouge airline in July. The new low-cost carrier is aimed at high-volume leisure travel in the Caribbean, United States and other international markets.

Air Canada has also tightened its grip on costs.

"We do have a plan to transform Air Canada into a sustainably profitable airline," Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu said on a webcast investor presentation.

The transfer of 15 Embraer 175 aircraft to privately held airline Sky Regional in 2013 will also contribute to the 15 percent reduction in overall costs per available seat mile.

The company now expects those costs to fall 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, excluding fuel and unusual items, in the second quarter and full year. It previously forecast between a 0.5 percent decrease and 0.5 percent increase for the quarter.

Chief Financial Officer Micheal Rousseau would not specify when the company would reach the 15 percent target, other than to say it would be in the medium term.   Continued...

An Air Canada Jazz plane taxis after landing at Pearson International Airport in Toronto April 13, 2012. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese