WestJet planes less full in June, airline says

Tue Jul 8, 2008 11:27am EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd planes flew less full in June, Canada's No. 2 airline said on Tuesday, as a big increase in capacity more than offset growing passenger traffic.

WestJet, which announced a codeshare agreement on Tuesday with Southwest Airlines Co, the No. 1 U.S. domestic carrier, said its load factor, a measure of how full its planes flew, fell to 76.5 percent last month, down 3.4 percentage points from 79.9 percent in June 2007.

WestJet said the drop came as it added five new Boeing 737 aircraft, raising its fleet to 75 of the planes. Available seat miles, a measure of capacity, rose 23.1 percent from the year-prior month to 1.49 billion from 1.18 billion.

Revenue passenger miles rose 17.9 percent to 1.11 billion from 940 million as the airline flew an additional 86,500 customers despite adding surcharges to its ticket prices to cope with record fuel costs.

Air Canada, the country's largest airline, said on Monday its load factor dropped 0.6 percentage points from June 2007, to 82.2 percent, even after tacking on surcharges of its own and announcing plans to cull routes and lay off 2,000 staff because of fuel costs.

For the second quarter, WestJet's load factor fell 1.4 percentage points from the same period last year to 79.5 percent. Capacity rose 21.4 percent to 4.24 billion available seat miles, while revenue passenger miles climbed 19.3 percent to 3.37 billion.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)