WestJet reports record November passenger levels

Wed Dec 5, 2012 9:28am EST

Snow covered mountains are seen under the wing of a WestJet commercial flight on route from Vancouver to Calgary November 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Snow covered mountains are seen under the wing of a WestJet commercial flight on route from Vancouver to Calgary November 23, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - WestJet Airlines, Canada's second-biggest carrier, said it flew fuller planes in November compared with a year earlier.

Load factor - the percentage of available seats filled with paying customers - rose to 82.6 percent last month from 77.6 percent in November 2011.

WestJet's year-to-date load factor also rose 3.3 percentage points to 82.9 percent.

Revenue passenger miles, or traffic, was up 8.3 percent, while available seat miles, a measure of airlines' carrying capacity, rose 1.7 percent.

"Our airline partnership strategy and growing number of business travellers are contributing to our positive momentum," WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said.

WestJet said earlier this month that it will use technological innovation, including a new Internet ticket booking system, to transform from a no-frills carrier to a lower-cost full-service airline and court corporate travellers.

Traffic data is expected later on Wednesday from Air Canada ACb.TO, the country's largest airline.

Privately held Porter Airlines, a smaller short-haul carrier, reported emptier planes in November.

Toronto-based Porter reported a load factor of 54.5 percent for the month, down 11.4 percentage points, from November 2011.

Traffic, declined 11.9 percent while capacity, rose 6.7 percent, Porter said.

Porter's load factor climbed 0.3 percentage points to 61.8 percent, year-to-date. (Reporting by Krithika Krishnamurthy in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)