ALBERTA

WestJet reports strong demand in February, pushing up traffic and load factor

03/05/2013 09:04 EST | Updated 05/05/2013 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) said Tuesday it carried about 1.4 million passengers last month, up 5.5 per cent from the same time last year, resulting in a record load factor for a February.

WestJet's passenger traffic increased by 7.3 per cent in terms of revenue passenger miles, which rose to 1.6 billion from 1.5 billion in February 2012.

The increase came as the airline's capacity as measured by available seat miles grew 3.1 per cent to 1.87 billion from 1.81 billion a year before.

Its load factor — a measure of how full its planes were — rose to 86.1 per cent, up from 82.7 per cent in February 2012.

"We are very pleased with the record February load factor, as our capacity increases continue to be absorbed by the market," WestJet president and chief executive Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.

Porter Airlines, a regional airline based in Toronto, reported its load factor for February was 54 per cent, down 2.1 percentage points from a year earlier.

Porter reported 56.6 million revenue passenger miles, down 8.6 per cent from 61.9 million a year earlier, while available seat miles declined by 5.0 per cent to 104.9 million from 110.4 million.

"The capacity difference versus last year is attributed almost entirely to the leap year in 2012 providing an extra day of flying," said Robert Deluce, Porter's president and chief executive.

"Revenue per ASM is holding up nicely compared to last year despite significant capacity increases by other carriers on certain routes."

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