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Air Canada, WestJet report lower load factor in February as capacity expands faster than traffic


Canada’s two biggest airlines said their flights last month had a few more empty seats compared with a year ago as they both added capacity faster than traffic grew.

Air Canada (TSE:AC.B), the nation's largest airline, said system load factor for February decreased to 79 percent, from 79.8 per cent a year ago. 

The decrease came as Air Canada system capacity expanded 4.9 percent in February as measured by available seat miles (ASM), the Montreal, Quebec–based company said in a statement today.

But passenger traffic as measured by revenue passenger miles (RPM) increased 3.8 percent.

"Despite severe winter weather conditions at our main hub in Toronto and across much of North America, Air Canada generated greater traffic for the month of February in all markets the airline serves, led by increased traffic in the U.S. transborder market," Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu said in the statement.

Air Canada shares rose 1.4 percent to C$6.57 at 1:39 p.m. in Toronto, paring this year's losses to 11.3 percent.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSE:WJA), Canada's largest discount carrier, increased capacity by 9.2 per cent, while traffic gained 7.3 percent compared with a year ago.

System load factor retreated to 84.6 percent in February, from 86.1 percent a year earlier, the Calgary, Alberta–based airline said in a statement today.

WestJet flew 1.5 million guests in February, a year-over-year increase of 8.0 per cent or approximately 114,000 additional guests.

"We are pleased with the strong traffic growth, achieving our second-highest February load factor in WestJet's history," said WestJet's Chief Executive Officer Gregg Saretsky in the company's statement.

WestJet shares rose 1.5 percent to C$25.90, trimming this year's losses to 7 percent.






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