UPDATE 1-WestJet, Air Canada post record October passenger levels

Mon Nov 5, 2012 4:50pm EST
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* Air Canada load factor climbs to 82.9 pct

* WestJet reports fourth month of record levels

* Forward bookings remain healthy, WestJet CEO says

* Porter Airlines says load factor down due to its focus on yield

TORONTO, Nov 5 (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.   Continued...