May 6, 2008 / 9:39 PM / in 9 years

Air Canada boosts passenger numbers in April

CALGARY, Alberta, May 6 (Reuters) - Air Canada ACa.TO said on Tuesday its planes flew fuller in April as the country's biggest airline added passengers, despite higher fares driven by record fuel prices.

Air Canada's stronger traffic was in contrast with its main domestic competitor, WestJet Airlines (WJA.TO), which said on Monday that its 15-month string of higher load factors ended last month.

"Air Canada carried more traffic and achieved a record load factor in April even though the month did not include the normal traffic boost from the Easter holiday this year," Chief Executive Montie Brewer said in a statement.

The carrier's combined operations had an April load factor of 82.7 percent last month, up 0.4 percentage points from the same period a year earlier.

Capacity, measured in available seat miles, increased by 0.4 percent to 4.8 billion, and traffic, measured in revenue passenger miles, was up 0.8 percent at nearly 4 billion.

Jazz Air JAZ_u.TO, Air Canada's regional affiliate, posted a load factor of 74.9 percent last month, up 0.9 percentage points from April 2007.

Capacity fell 2.3 percent to 462 million seat miles and traffic dipped 1.1 percent to 346 million revenue passenger miles, it said.

Air Canada's A-series shares rose 4 Canadian cents to C$7.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Jazz trust units rose 3 Canadian cents to $7.79. ($1=$1 Canadian) (Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson)

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