January 6, 2011 / 2:14 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-WestJet flies emptier planes in December

* December load factor 80.3 pct from yr-ago 81.7 pct

* Traffic up 10.9 pct, capacity rises 12.9 pct

* Still sees improved fourth-quarter unit revenue

OTTAWA, Jan 6 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) flew fewer passengers in December versus a year earlier, but Canada’s second-biggest airline still sees improved fourth-quarter unit revenue, it said on Thursday.

WestJet’s load factor -- the percentage of available seats filled with paying customers -- fell to 80.3 percent last month from 81.7 percent in December 2009.

Revenue passenger miles, or traffic, increased by 10.9 percent, as available seat miles, or capacity, grew 12.9 percent from the year-prior period.

Load factor for the fourth-quarter was 0.1 percent higher as traffic increased 13.9 percent and capacity rose 13.8 percent.

For the full year, load factor rose 1.2 percent, traffic was up 12.9 percent and capacity 11.1 percent. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Derek Caney)

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