December 5, 2007 / 9:59 PM / 10 years ago

Air Canada loads lighter last month, WestJet gains

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Air Canada ACa.TO ACb.TO, the country’s biggest airline, said on Wednesday its planes were less crowded in November as it added more capacity than passengers, while its largest rival said more of its seats were filled last month.

Air Canada said the load factor on its mainline system, a measure of how much available space was sold to passengers, dropped 1.1 percentage points in November from a year earlier to 76.1 percent.

The drop came as capacity, measured in available seat miles, rose 3.6 percent to 4.03 billion. Air Canada sold 3.07 billion seat miles to passengers in November, 2.1 percent more than in November, 2006.

WestJet Airlines Ltd’s (WJA.TO) load factor was 75.6 percent in November, up from 73.4 percent for the same month last year.

Meanwhile, the No. 2 carrier reported a capacity increase of 14.8 percent and a growth in revenue passenger miles of 18.3 percent.

Traffic figures for Jazz Air LP JAZ_u.TO, Air Canada’s regional affiliate, show the airline’s November load factor climbed 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier to 72.2 percent.

Jazz’s capacity surged 7 percent to 457 million available seat miles while traffic surged even higher, climbing 7.8 percent to 330 million miles.

Consolidated results for Air Canada, which include Jazz and its mainline, show its load factor dropped 0.9 percent to 75.7 percent as a combined capacity growth of 3.9 percent, to 4.48 billion miles, outpaced a 2.7 percent rise in traffic, to 3.4 billion miles.

Reporting by Scott Haggett and Scott Anderson; Editing by Jeffrey Jones

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