UPDATE 2-Lower fuel costs help Canada's WestJet post higher profit

Tue Feb 3, 2015 1:58pm EST
 
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* Company raises 2015 capex to C$920 mln- C$940 mln from C$820 mln- C$840 mln

* Q4 revenue passenger miles up 6.5 pct

* Q4 revenue up 7.3 pct to C$994.4 mln (Adds comments from conference call, background, analyst comment)

By Anannya Pramanick and Darshana Sankararaman

Feb 3 (Reuters) - Cheaper fuel helped WestJet Airlines Ltd report a 34 percent jump in quarterly profit and the Canadian carrier said it expected fuel costs to fall by up to 30 percent in the current quarter.

The No. 2 Canadian airline by revenue behind Air Canada , said costs per available seat mile, a measure of how much an airline spends to fly a passenger, declined 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 as fuel costs fell 6.4 percent.

Fuel prices have fallen over the past few months, reflecting a 50 percent slump in global crude oil prices since June due to excess supply and weak demand from Europe.

WestJet, however, ramped up its 2015 capital budget by $100 million to C$920 million-C$940 million due to a weak Canadian dollar.

A fall in the Canadian dollar hurts Canadian airlines as they make major purchases such as planes and fuel in U.S. dollars. A stronger dollar also often curbs travel.   Continued...