WestJet Airlines profit tops estimates as costs fall

Tue Nov 5, 2013 10:22am EST
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(Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO: Quote), Canada's second-largest carrier, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as expenses fell.

Cost per available seat mile (CASM), excluding fuel and employee profit-sharing costs, declined 1.5 percent in the third quarter ended September 30.

However, the company said the fall in costs would be less for the full year at only 0.5 percent.

WestJet has identified ways to save about $100 million in costs in 2014, Chief Executive Gregg Saretsky said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the company was hitting its three-year transformation targets a year earlier than planned.

The company did not specify the areas in which it was looking to cut costs.

"The rates of growth in costs and the supply of additional seats in 2014 are both expected to be modest," said BMO analyst Fadi Chamoun in a client note.

"To the extent that the economy and the demand environment continue to progress, even at a moderate pace, the company appears well positioned to continue to deliver robust earnings growth."

WestJet is facing increased competition as bigger rival Air Canada ACb.TO boosted capacity with the summer launch of its discount vacation airline, Rouge.

WestJet had warned in July that the roll-out of its Encore regional carrier and related fleet reconfiguration would hurt efficiency, as measured by revenue for each flown mile.   Continued...

A West Jet Boeing 737-600 aircraft arrives at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Andy Clark