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WestJet posts record January load factor

Feb. 5, 2013, Calgary - WestJet Airlines reported a record monthly load factor in January as the number of passengers grew 6.4 per cent to 1.5 million.


February 5, 2013
By The Canadian Press

Feb. 5, 2013, Calgary – WestJet Airlines reported a record monthly load
factor in January as the number of passengers grew 6.4 per cent to 1.5
million.

The Calgary-based airline said Tuesday that its planes flew 80.9 per cent full in the first month of the year, up one percentage point from 79.9 per cent a year ago.

"Positive momentum continues into 2013 as January marks our seventh consecutive monthly load factor record,'' stated WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky.

He added that forward bookings remain strong.

Analysts monitor load factor as a measure of how much total fleet capacity is used by an airline to carry passengers.

Traffic, or revenue per passenger mile, increased 7.7 per cent in January on a 6.4 per cent increase in capacity or available seat miles.

WestJet has expanded its offering this winter to sun destinations by adding service to several destinations in the
Caribbean and Mexico from Toronto and Calgary.

The airline will report its fourth-quarter and year-end results on Wednesday and is expected to soon announce the schedule for its new regional service, WestJet Encore.

Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial said WestJet's traffic results are a clear indication of healthy air travel demand.

"We also believe that WestJet's load factor is benefiting from its charter deal with Thomas Cook,'' he wrote in a report, adding that strong bookings suggest continued good traffic numbers in the coming months.

Analysts expect WestJet will report 42 cents per share in adjusted profits in the fourth quarter on $856 million of revenues.

Meanwhile, Porter Airlines said its load factor decreased 2.1 percentage points to 53.6 per cent in January on a 0.8 per cent increase in traffic and a 4.7 per cent growth in capacity.

"These results are good for January, which is typically the slowest period of the entire calendar year,'' said president and CEO Robert Deluce.

He said Porter's new leisure package division is only beginning to increase the number of passengers with trips to ski destinations in Vermont and Quebec among the most popular options.

Air Canada will also report its monthly traffic numbers Tuesday, ahead of its quarterly results on Thursday.