December 4, 2009 / 2:11 PM / in 9 years

Air Canada says planes flew less full in November

* November load factor declines to 74.7 pct

* Traffic declines 1.2 pct

OTTAWA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Air Canada ACa.TO, the country’s biggest airline, said it flew emptier planes in November, reflecting a traditionally weak travel period and ailing economy.

The Montreal-based airline said late on Thursday that its consolidated load factor, or the percentage of available seats filled with paying passengers, declined to 74.7 percent from 77.6 percent in the year-prior period.

Consolidated figures include data from Air Canada’s regional feeder airline Jazz Air JAZ_u.TO.

System traffic, a measure of demand for air travel, decreased 1.2 percent as system-wide capacity increased 2.7 percent.

“As we have previously stated, we do not expect an economic recovery for 12 to 18 months,” Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.

Rival WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) said on Thursday that its November load factor slipped to 75.9 percent from 76.1 percent. Canada’s second-biggest airline said its traffic increased 3.1 percent as capacity rose 3.4 percent.

Shares in Air Canada closed at C$1.22 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday. Year-to-date, the stock has shed about 35 percent of its value. ($1=$1.05 Canadian) (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Derek Caney) ((; +1 613 235 8385; Reuters Messaging:

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