December 3, 2009 / 5:09 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-WestJet says reservation system to hurt Q4 revenue

* Fourth-quarter revenue per seat mile seen down 11-13 pct

* Will launch loyalty programs after holiday season

* Stock falls 1.3 pct to C$11.79 on TSX

OTTAWA, Dec 3 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) said on Thursday that a rocky transition to its new reservation system will hurt fourth-quarter revenue, which it forecast to fall by 11 percent to 13 percent per seat mile from the year-before quarter.

WestJet, which reported it flew slightly emptier planes in November, also said it will launch new loyalty programs after the holiday travel season to make up for inconvenience caused by the new reservation system.

Glitches with the Sabre reservation system, launched in mid-October, hurt service and problems persisted longer than expected, the no-frills carrier said.

To improve the quality of service, WestJet said it will roll out a frequent guest and credit card program when the holiday travel season ends.

“Although difficult to quantify, we believe that the challenges experienced in the transition to the new reservation system will negatively impact our revenue this quarter,” said Chief Executive Sean Durfy in a statement.

“Currently, our revenue per available seat mile for the fourth quarter of 2009 is tracking to an anticipated year-over-year decline of 11 to 13 percent.”

The Sabre system is a key prong in WestJet’s growth strategy along with code-share agreements and loyalty programs. The reservation system supports code-sharing deals, in which airlines sell seats on each other’s flights.

WestJet also said on Thursday that its load factor, or the percentage of available seats filled with paying passengers, was 75.9 percent in November, compared with 76.1 percent in the same period last year.

Traffic, measured by revenue passenger miles, increased 3.1 percent year-over-year and capacity, or available seat miles, rose 3.4 percent.

WestJet shares were 15 Canadian cents lower at C$11.79 on the Toronto Stock Exchange late on Thursday morning.

$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Peter Galloway; +1 613 235 8385; Reuters Messaging:

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