06/06/2011 09:36 EDT | Updated 08/06/2011 05:12 EDT

Canada Flights: More Canadians Flying, Visiting U.S.


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- Five per cent more passengers travelled on Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) jets in May compared to the same month a year earlier, while competitor WestJet (TSX:WJA) saw a 3.1 per cent year-over-year increase as the major airlines gear up for the busy summer travel period.

Air Canada reported a load factor, a measure of how much of its capacity is used, of 82.2 per cent, up only slightly from 82 per cent in the same month a year before. Capacity rose 4.7 per cent, the Montreal-based airline reported.

"Led by a 13 per cent increase on U.S. transborder routes, we generated greater traffic in all markets with system wide growth of five per cent, while overall capacity increased 4.7 per cent through higher utilization of our existing fleet," said president and CEO Calin Rovinescu.

WestJet (TSX:WJA) saw its load factor decline 2.9 percentage points to 74.8 per cent as its May capacity grew seven per cent

"May is considered a shoulder period where our aircraft deployment begins to shift back towards more domestic flying as we gear up for the busy summer season," WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.

"An increase in our domestic capacity this month contributed to a lower year-over-year load factor, but we remain encouraged with the favourable pricing environment and strong year-over-year yields."