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WestJet reports strong first quarter

May 3, 2011, Calgary - WestJet today reported first quarter 2011 net earnings of $48.2 million, or 34 cents per share, a significant improvement from $2.4 million or 2 cents per share reported in the first quarter of 2010.


May 3, 2011
Carey Fredericks

The airline achieved an operating margin of 10.3 per cent which
represents an increase of 6.4 points compared to the first quarter of 2010.

"To start 2011 with strong earnings in an environment of
elevated fuel costs is another testament to the resiliency of WestJet, the
effectiveness of our business model, and the hard work of every
WestJetter," commented WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky.

 

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              Operating highlights (stated in Canadian dollars)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Q1 2011   Q1 2010(*)     Change
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Net earnings (millions)                    $48.2        $2.4    1,940.1%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Earnings per share (cents)                 $0.34       $0.02    1,600.0%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total revenue (millions)                  $772.4      $619.3       24.7%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Operating margin                           10.3%        3.9%     6.4 pts.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ASMs (available seat miles) (billions)     5.230       4.700       11.3%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    RPMs (revenue passenger miles) (billions)  4.290       3.840       11.7%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Load factor                                82.0%       81.7%     0.3 pts.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Yield (revenue per revenue passenger
     mile) (cents)                             18.00       16.13       11.6%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    RASM (revenue per available seat mile)
     (cents)                                   14.77       13.18       12.1%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    CASM (cost per available seat mile)
     (cents)                                   13.24       12.67        4.5%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    CASM, excluding fuel and employee
     profit share (cents)(**)                   8.91        9.21       (3.3%)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Segment guests                         3,899,108   3,688,490        5.7%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Average stage length (miles)               1,021         963        6.0%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (*)  Financial information has been restated in accordance with
         International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
    (**) Refer to reconciliations in the accompanying tables for further
         information regarding adjustments.

 

Revenue per available seat mile (RASM) was up 12.1 per cent year
over year which was mostly attributable to significant yield improvement and
slight load factor growth. "We are pleased that the market has absorbed
the fare increases put in place to offset rising fuel costs. These strong first
quarter results represent net earnings per guest of roughly twelve dollars
which highlights the competitive nature of the airline industry," said
Gregg Saretsky. For the second quarter of 2011, WestJet is projecting fuel
costs, excluding hedging, to range between $0.95 and $0.98 per litre, and is
anticipating continued strong year-over-year RASM growth.

For the first half of 2011, WestJet is expecting cost per
available seat mile (CASM), excluding fuel and employee profit share, to be
relatively flat on a year-over-year basis compared to the first half of 2010.
"WestJetters are well known for providing a great guest experience, as
recognized by the recent J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service award, but they are
also very cost-conscious and I thank them for their ongoing efforts in keeping
our controllable costs in check," concluded Gregg Saretsky.

WestJet's board of directors declared a cash dividend of $0.05 per
common voting share and variable voting share for the second quarter of 2011,
to be paid on June 30, 2011, to shareholders of record on June 15, 2011. All
dividends paid by WestJet are, pursuant to subsection 89(14) of the Income Tax
Act, designated as eligible dividends, unless indicated otherwise. An eligible
dividend paid to a Canadian resident is entitled to the enhanced dividend tax
credit.