BUSINESS

Air Canada sees fewer empty seats in February, traffic and capacity lower

03/07/2013 11:54 EST | Updated 05/07/2013 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) reported Thursday that its planes were fuller in February.

The country's largest airline said it had a system load factor — a measure of how full its flights were for the month — of 79.8 per cent for February, up from 76.8 per cent a year ago.

The increase came as system traffic as measured by revenue passenger miles decreased 0.7 per cent and capacity measured as available seat miles slipped 4.4 per cent with one less day in the month compared with 2012.

"The difference in capacity and traffic from the previous year is attributed almost entirely to the additional day of operations reported for the February 2012 leap year, making those year-over-year comparisons less meaningful," Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.

Air Canada said its Canadian flights had a load factor of 84.1 per cent compared with 81.1 per cent a year ago, while flights to the U.S. improved to 80 per cent from 78.4 per cent in February 2012.

The results at Air Canada compared with a load factor of 86.1 per cent at rival WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA), up from 82.7 per cent a year ago.

WestJet's passenger traffic for February increased by 7.3 per cent, while its capacity grew 3.1 per cent.