Business

Air Canada, WestJet fly fuller planes

Air Canada and WestJet say January was a high-flying month, as they reported best-ever load factors for the traditionally slow month.

Air Canada and WestJet both say January was a high-flying month, as they reported best-ever load factors for the traditionally slow month.

Air Canada said77.8 per cent of its seats were filled last month, while WestJet's load factor was 75.9 per cent.

Both airlines said their load factors increased even though they bothmade more seats available. Air Canada's capacity (including its Jazz regional carrier) grew 2.9 per cent over January 2006, while WestJet's year-over-year available seat miles surged19 per cent.

"That we were able to increase our load factor and capacity in this normally challenging month shows we are successfully combining our product innovations, including our simplified fare structure and new aircraft, with a disciplined approach to growth," Air Canada CEO Montie Brewer said in a release.

WestJet presidentSean Durfy saidJanuary's record load factor was
"particularly satisfying" in light of the airline's19 per cent growth in
capacity."Our bookings through January are strong and are in line with our expectations for the first quarter," he said.

Air Canada shares were up 35 cents to $18.50 in noon-hour ET trading on the TSX. WestJet's stock slipped 18 cents to $15.18.

now