* Air Canada load factor 84.7 pct vs 80.9 pct
* WestJet load factor 78.2 pct vs 72.9 pct a year ago (Adds Air Canada data)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 6 (Reuters) - Air Canada ACa.TO ACb.TO and WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) flew fuller planes in June, they said on Tuesday, as air travel demand ticked up at the start of the busy summer season.
Air Canada, Canada’s biggest airline, reported a record load factor of 84.7 percent, up from 80.9 percent in June last year. The figures included results from regional feeder service Jazz JAZ_u.TO.
Air Canada’s load factor rose despite a system-wide capacity increase of 9.9 percent.
No. 2 WestJet said its load factor rose to 78.2 percent from 72.9 percent even with a 10.9 percent rise in capacity.
“Since June is a month when we transition into the peak travel season, we are very encouraged with this month’s strong load factor, particularly with our significant year-over-year capacity growth,” WestJet President and Chief Executive Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.
WestJet’s traffic, measured in revenue passenger miles, increased 19 percent year over year. Overall, the low-cost airline flew an extra 139,000 passengers in June compared with the same month last year.
Air Canada said system traffic rose 15 percent in June and was up in all its markets, led by a 33 percent jump in the Pacific region.
Like airlines around the world, those in Canada are experiencing a resurgence this year after a sharp slowdown in 2008 and 2009 because of the economic downturn.
WestJet’s strong data led Versant Partners analyst Cameron Doerksen to raise his one-year price target on WestJet stock to C$17.85 from C$16.25.
Shares in WestJet, which flies to 68 cities in North America and the Caribbean, closed 4 Canadian cents firmer at C$11.87 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Air Canada’s stock added 6 Canadian cents to C$1.66. Air Canada’s data was released after North American markets had shut.
$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson and Peter Galloway