Air Canada loads down in January, WestJet gains

Wed Feb 3, 2010 5:58pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Air Canada, the county's No. 1 airline, said its planes flew less full last month even as smaller rival WestJet Airlines Ltd said its flights were more crowded.

Air Canada, said its load factor, the percentage of available seats filled with paying customers, slipped 0.6 percentage points to 77.5 percent from January, 2008, when the measure rose to a record for the month.

Traffic on Air Canada and its regional carrier Jazz, increased 4.1 per cent to 3.86 billion revenue passenger miles but that gain was more than offset by a 4.9 percent rise in capacity, or available seat miles, to 4.99 billion.

"This result is close to last year's record load factor for the same month underscoring the on-going effectiveness of our disciplined approach to capacity management in a difficult economic environment," Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada's chief executive, said in a statement. "


WestJet, the country's No. 2 airline, said on Wednesday its planes flew fuller in January, helped by increased vacation travel.

The carrier said its load factor rose to a record high of 78.8 percent from 76.8 percent in January 2009.

Traffic, or revenue passenger miles, increased 9.7 percent year-over-year, while capacity, or available seat miles, rose by 6.9 percent.

"As we continue to endure the challenges of an uncertain economy, we are happy to be starting 2010 on the right foot," said WestJet Chief Executive Sean Durfy.   Continued...