REFILE-Canada's WestJet flies fuller planes in February, Porter sees drop

Tue Mar 5, 2013 11:06am EST
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* WestJet marks eighth consecutive record load

* WestJet shares jump 5.2 percent

* Short-haul airline Porter sees load factor fall

TORONTO, March 5 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd, Canada's No. 2 carrier, reported record monthly passenger levels on Tuesday, sending its shares higher, while smaller regional carrier Porter Airlines flew emptier planes in February.

WestJet said its load factor, or the percentage of seats filled with paying customers, jumped to 86.1 percent. That compares with 82.7 percent a year earlier and marks the Calgary-based airline's eighth consecutive record monthly load factor.

WestJet shares jumped C$1.19, or 5.2 percent, to C$24.26 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in early trade on Tuesday.

WestJet, which will launch a regional carrier called Encore in June, said that capacity, which is measured by available seat miles, rose just 3.1 percent. Traffic, or revenue per passenger mile, increased by 7.3 percent.

Toll Cross Securities analyst Jacques Kavafian said traffic gains matched his estimates, while capacity growth was less than he expected.   Continued...