November 3, 2011 / 10:00 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-Air Canada planes emptier in Oct, WestJet's stable

* Air Canada load factor dips to 79.4 pct from 80.3

* WestJet’s load factor unchanged at 77.4 pct

* WestJet said forward bookings remain healthy (Adds Air Canada figures)

Nov 3 (Reuters) - Air Canada ACb.TO ACa.TO flew slightly emptier planes in October, data showed on Thursday, as capacity increases at the country’s biggest carrier outflanked a rise in demand.

Air Canada, said its load factor fell to 79.4 percent last month from 80.3 percent in October 2010.

That was because passenger traffic increases of 2 percent were not enough to offset a system-wide capacity increase of 3.2 percent.

Demand rose on routes in Canada, the United States and the South Pacific-Latin America-Caribbean markets, Air Canada Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.

Air Canada reports its third-quarter earnings on Friday.

Meanwhile, Canada’s No. 2 airline, WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) said its load factor was unchanged at 77.4 percent in October as demand of 6.7 percent matched the airline’s capacity additions.

WestJet’s forward bookings “remain healthy”, President and CEO Gregg Saretsky said.

WestJet also announced that it will eliminate an annual qualifying spend clause from its rewards program. Instead, members of its frequent client program will earn rewards with their first WestJet flight or WestJet Vacations package bought. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson)

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