Canada's airlines flew fuller planes in November

Mon Dec 6, 2010 2:42pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Air Canada, WestJet Airlines and Porter Airlines all flew fuller planes in November, the carriers said on Monday, as stronger demand filled higher capacity levels as the economy recovers.

WestJet, Canada's second-biggest airline, said its load factor for the month was 77.7 percent, up 1.8 percentage points from a year earlier, as traffic leaped a healthy 17.9 percent on a big capacity jump of 15.3 percent.

Chief Executive Gregg Saretsky said the company was seeing strong bookings from business clients, a new target market for WestJet, and for vacation packages to sunny destinations.

"The nice part is that you're seeing Canadians travel and it looks like it'll be a good strong winter for everybody," said Chris Murray, an airlines analyst at PI Financial.

Air Canada, the country's biggest airline, said its system load factor for the month was 74.8 percent, up 0.1 percentage points from a year earlier, on a consolidated basis with Jazz, its regional feeder service.

System traffic rose 7.5 percent on a capacity increase of 7.3 percent.

Air Canada recorded traffic growth in all the markets it serves, led by a 19 percent increase in the Pacific, Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu said.

Even so, international load factors were a little weaker at Air Canada than in recent months, said Cameron Doerksen, an analyst at National Bank Financial.

"(That is) what you'd expect given that they've had pretty significant growth over the past year," Doerksen said.   Continued...

<p>A Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft is seen in Toronto February 23, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA)</p>