Not any more

Canada’s airlines gird for battle

In Canada on August 5, 2010 at 11:48

Air Canada AC.B-T and WestJet Airlines Ltd., WJA-T in recovery mode after the recession, are preparing for step up their fight for passengers against Porter Airlines Inc. in the crucial battleground of Central Canada.

Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s chief executive officer, said Thursday that he is keen to resume service at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, possibly by the end of 2010. Porter has held a monopoly on commercial flights at Billy Bishop since it launched operations in October, 2006.

Air Canada is slated to deploy its regional Jazz affiliate to fly from the airport, located on an island near Toronto’s downtown business core.

WestJet has transferred an executive, Duncan Bureau, to Toronto to oversee the Calgary-based carrier’s service from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. WestJet has been attempting to lure leisure and business travellers with discounted fares on the Eastern Triangle of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Air Canada also flies from Pearson, the country’s largest airport.

Mr. Rovinescu said Air Canada will be holding talks with the Toronto Port Authority, which oversees the awarding of takeoff and landing slots at the island airport.

He made the comments during a conference call Thursday, after announcing that Air Canada posted an operating profit of $75-million in the second quarter, an improvement over an operating loss of $113-million in the same period last year.

However, the Montreal-based carrier lost $203-million in the second quarter, when taking into account a $54-million charge for interest expenses and foreign-exchange losses of $156-million. In the same period in 2009, Air Canada earned $155-million, aided by foreign-exchange gains of $355-million.

WestJet posted a $21-million profit in the second quarter, up from $9.2-million a year earlier.

The load factor, or the proportion of seats filled by paying customers, rose at Canada’s two largest carriers.

WestJet’s load factor was 80.7 per cent in July, up from 76.4 per cent in the same month of 2009.

Air Canada’s July load factor, including Jazz, rose to 84.9 per cent from 83.6 per cent. The latest load factor marked a record high for the month of July at Air Canada and Jazz.

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