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WestJet, Air Canada report fewer empty seats in June

WestJet, Air Canada report fewer empty seats in June

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Air Canada reported Thursday that there were a smaller proportion of empty seats on their flights in June compared with a year ago, as the summer travel season kicked off.

Calgary-based WestJet posted a load factor – the proportion of seats filled on its flights – of 79 per cent for June. That's up from 75.7 per cent in June 2011 when Air Canada suffered a brief strike by its customer service agents.

The increase came as passenger traffic climbed 6.7 per cent from the same time last year, while capacity increased 2.3 per cent.

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"Advanced bookings for July and August remain strong," WestJet president and chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Air Canada reported a June load factor of 85.6 per cent, up from 84.2 per cent a year ago, as passenger traffic increased and the airline trimmed capacity.

Traffic increased 1.5 per cent, while capacity slipped 0.1 per cent.

"This record load factor result for the month also demonstrates the effectiveness of our strategy to manage capacity to ensure high efficiency," said Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu said.

Regional carrier Porter Airlines reported a load factor of 62 per cent for June, down from 64.6 per cent a year ago.

"Numbers for June, although slightly less than in 2011, met our expectations, especially considering the fact that a strike at one of our competitors last year," said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines.

Passenger traffic for the Toronto-based airline increased 4.1 per cent, while capacity gained 8.5 per cent.

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