Air Canada plans to expand capacity
MONTREAL — Air Canada plans to increase its number of available seats this year, especially on international routes, even though it expects to face a slow economic recovery.
After cutting capacity by 4.4 per cent last year to survive the recession, Canada’s largest airline plans to increase it by four to six per cent this year using its existing fleet.
Domestic capacity is forecasted to increase by 1.5 to 2.5 per cent, following a 3.7 per cent cut last year.
In the first quarter, capacity is planned to increase by 5.5 to 6.5 per cent.
“ We remain focused on building our international network while maintaining our commitment to the Canadian domestic market,” CEO Calin Rovinescu said Wednesday during a conference call.
Rovinescu said the carrier will do what it needs to in Canada to protect its market share from rival WestJet in order to serve its international and U.S. business.
The international system growth planned for the year will outpace the overall capacity increases as Air Canada plans to introduce four new European destinations this summer and enhancing its Asian offerings.
Air Canada also plans to use its updated aircraft and convenient Canadian hubs to attract U.S. travellers.
“There is a huge market of consumers along the eastern U.S. seaboard that are already in the habit of connecting to international flights and we intend to target a greater share of that market,” Rovinescu told analysts.
The airline beat analyst expectations by reporting a loss of $56 million or 25 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, a dramatic improvement from the same period in 2008 when the company lost $727 million or $7.27 per share.