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Air Canada down after November load factor declines

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Air Canada (TSE:AC.B) shares declined in early trading on Thursday, after Canada's largest airline reported a November load factor that declined from a year earlier, as overall capacity increased faster than passenger traffic. 

Load factor measures how much of total capacity is used.

For the month of November, Air Canada reported a system load factor of 76.5%, versus 78.1% in the year ago period, on a system wide capacity increase of 3.3% and a traffic boost of 1.1%. 

Air Canada reports traffic results on a system-wide basis, including Air Canada rougeTM, which began operations on July 1, and regional airlines from which Air Canada purchases capacity. In Canada, traffic increased 0.4%, while U.S. transborder traffic rose 3%. Latin America & Caribbean traffic jumped 10.5%. 

"Major market segments, notably the U.S. transborder and Latin America and the Caribbean, experienced traffic growth in a month that is typically challenging for international carriers," said president and CEO, Calin Rovinescu, in the statement released late Wednesday. 

"I am pleased to see continued progress on the execution of our corporate priorities with a focus on sustained profitability. Capacity added during the month was largely at significantly lower incremental cost due to the deployment of our high-density Boeing 777s and Air Canada rouge aircraft reconfigured with more seats."

The Canadian airline said that it continued to perform well in November, meeting departure and flight completion goals, among other operational targets. 

The company's biggest rival, WestJet Airlines (TSE:WJA), said its planes flew 79.7% full in the month, down 2.9 points from the same month last year, but up 0.5 points from October, according to a statement from the Calgary-based company.

Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline serving more than 175 destinations on five continents. It provides scheduled passenger service directly to 60 Canadian cities, 49 destinations in the United States and 67 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. 

Shares fell 1.75% in Toronto Thursday morning, to $7.86. Year-to-date, the stock has soared 350%. 

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