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WestJet's load factor dipped last month.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. flights took off with a slightly greater proportion of empty seats in December compared with a year ago as the airline grew its capacity.

The airline said it had a load factor or 81.7 per cent, down from 81.9 per cent a year ago.

Passenger traffic grew 7.2 per cent last month compared with last year, while capacity increased 7.4 per cent.

For the full year, WestJet reported a load factor of 81.7 per cent, down from 82.8 per cent in 2012. Capacity increased 8.6 per cent, while passenger traffic increased 7.3 per cent.

"We are very pleased to finish the year with our second-highest fourth quarter and full-year load factors," WestJet president and chief executive Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.

The increase in capacity came as WestJet launched a regional service called WestJet Encore, which flies to smaller communities using Bombardier's Q400 turboprops.

The regional airline started flying in Western Canada this year and plans to launch in Toronto next summer.