Air Canada load factor drops, reaches Toronto deal

Fri Mar 4, 2011 4:51pm EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Air Canada said on Friday its planes flew less full last month as a gain in capacity outstripped rising passenger numbers. It said it had reached a deal to fly out of Toronto's downtown airport.

Air Canada, the country's biggest carrier, said its February load factor, a measure of how full planes were, dropped 2.5 percentage points from February 2010 to 75.9 percent.

The drop came as a 7.1 percent rise in capacity from additional flights to U.S. and international destinations outstripped a 3.7 percent rise in traffic.

" We experienced continued traffic increases in the key transborder and Pacific markets and overall traffic growth system-wide," Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada's chief executive, said in a statement.

The airline also said it has reached a deal to fly out of the Toronto Island Billy Bishop airport and flights will begin in May.

Air Canada said it wrapped up a terminal agreement with City Center Terminal Corp, owned by rival Porter Airlines Holding Corp that will see 15 flights per day between the island airport and Montreal.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Janet Guttsman)

<p>The Toronto Island Airport (R) sits next to the downtown core of Toronto in Lake Ontario in a picture taken from a commercial flight over the city November 6, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>