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(Larry MacDougal)
(Larry MacDougal)

Canada's airlines report higher traffic Add to ...

Canada's two largest airlines have both reported an increase in passenger traffic in November compared with the same month last year, with WestJet seeing bigger gains than Air Canada.

Air Canada said Monday that its passenger traffic increased by 7.5 per cent, while WestJet Airlines Ltd. posted a traffic increase of 17.9 per cent.

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Calgary-based WestJet grew in capacity by 15.3 per cent, launching new seasonal service between Toronto and New Orleans, as well as between Toronto and the Caribbean stops Santa Clara, Cuba, and Grand Cayman Island.

The airline's load factor - a measure of how full its fleet was -rose 1.8 percentage points to a record 77.7 per cent.

"We're encouraged by the strength of bookings from the business market and the demand for WestJet Vacations packages," WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.

Montreal-based Air Canada said passenger traffic increased as the airline upped its capacity by 7.3 per cent in the traditionally slower off-peak travel season.

"Led by over 19 per cent traffic growth in the Pacific, we recorded an increase in traffic in all markets we serve - the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year traffic increases, Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO, said in a statement.

On a consolidated basis with regional carrier Jazz, the airline's load factor rose 0.1 percentage points to 74.8 per cent in November.

Air Canada pointed to more efficient aircraft use for that increase.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Porter Airlines, said it expects to post record numbers in 2010 as it reported a passenger traffic increase of 38.3 per cent over November, 2009.

The airline, which makes short-haul flights out of its hub at Toronto's island airport increased its capacity by 26.5 per cent, and its load factor jumped 4.6 percentage points.

"As the year draws to a close, revenue metrics are strong and we will post record numbers in many categories," Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines said in a statement.

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