November 1, 2016 / 10:47 AM / a year ago

WestJet's profit beats as it flies more passengers

A Westjet Boeing 737-700 takes off at the International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, May 3, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Korol

(Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as it flew more passengers and expenses fell.

The company’s fuel expenses, typically an airline’s largest variable cost, declined 0.3 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30. WestJet flew 5.9 million passengers, an increase of 7 percent from a year ago.

The company said on Tuesday it expects cost per available seat mile (CASM), excluding fuel and employee profit share, to fall by 1-2 percent in the current quarter.

WestJet’s adjusted CASM, a measure of how much an airline spends to fly a passenger, rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter.

The company said its revenue per available seat mile (RASM) fell to 2.7 percent. RASM, an indicator of an airline’s efficiency, is calculated by dividing its operating income by available seat miles.

The airline’s load factor, which measures how effectively it filled seats, rose to 84 percent from 81.8 percent, a year earlier.

WestJet’s net earnings rose to C$116 million ($86.68 million), or 97 Canadian cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from C$101.80 million, or 82 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 94 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Calgary-based airline’s revenue rose 7.6 percent to C$1.12 billion, slightly missing estimates of C$1.13 billion.

($1 = 1.3383 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Shounak Dasgupta

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