WestJet Airlines Ltd.’s fourth-quarter profit fell by 39 per cent as a surge in fuel costs trumped a rise in seat sales.
The Calgary-based carrier’s profit for the three months ending Dec. 31 is $29.2-million, or 26 cents a share, compared with $47.8-million (41 cents) in the same period a year earlier.
The results beat analyst expectations of per-share profit of 14 cents a share.
“Over all, this looks like a solid quarter,” said Walter Spracklin, an analyst at Royal Bank of Canada.
Fuel costs rose by 20 per cent in the quarter, WestJet reported on Tuesday morning before markets opened. WestJet flew 6.2 million people in the quarter, a rise of 2.9 per cent. However, yield fell by 2 per cent, from the year-ago period.
For 2018, WestJet’s profit tumbled by 67 per cent to $91.5-million (80 cents) from $279-million ($2.38).
Fadi Chamoun, a stock analyst at Bank of Montreal, said the results exceeded his and the consensus expectations, largely because of better than expected non-fuel costs and first-quarter guidance.
WestJet is Canada’s second-largest airline, with scheduled flights to 100 cities in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.
“In 2018 we executed several significant milestones on our path to becoming a high-value global network airline,” said Ed Sims, WestJet’s chief executive officer, in a statement accompanying the release. “As we enter 2019, we continue to build momentum and are well-positioned to deliver on our strategic initiatives and expand margins.”