06/05/2013 09:36 EDT | Updated 08/05/2013 05:12 EDT

WestJet capacity rises faster than passenger traffic in May, load factor slips

CALGARY - WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) says its load factor for May was lower than in the same month last year, as passenger traffic increased less than capacity grew.

The Calgary-based company's load factor slipped 0.7 point from a year ago to 78.5 per cent in May, indicating slightly less of its total seating capacity was used.

However, WestJet's capacity rose by 9.1 per cent or 161 million available seat miles and traffic was up 8.2 per cent or 114 million revenue passenger miles.

The airline says that translates into about 110,000 additional guests compared with May 2012.

WestJet has been forming and strengthening partnerships with foreign carriers as it prepares to launch its Encore regional service on June 24.

Its main rival, Montreal-based Air Canada (TSX:AC.B), launched a regional turboprop service called Air Canada Express in February and is also planning a new secondary airline flying jets to be called Rouge.