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WestJet announces May load factor of 74.1 per cent
Canada NewsWire

Results driven by tough demand environment in airline's shoulder period

CALGARY, June 3 /CNW/ - WestJet today announced May traffic results with a load factor of 74.1 per cent. Revenue passenger miles (RPM) declined 5.8 per cent year-over-year and capacity, measured in available seat miles (ASM), grew 1.2 per cent over the same period.

"Seasonally adjusting our capacity makes May a challenging month for WestJet," explained Sean Durfy, WestJet President and CEO. "Transitioning over 20 per cent of our capacity back to our domestic schedule in the May shoulder period, coupled with the tough demand environment, impacted our revenue per available seat mile (RASM) performance."

"During this difficult part of the business cycle, our strong culture, brand and financial health shield us from the full impact of the downturn," added Sean Durfy. "I thank our WestJetters for their relentless commitment to providing a high-value guest experience, while at the same time focusing on reducing costs."

                           May 2009 traffic results

                                  May 2009           May 2008        Change
    Load factor                     74.1%              79.5%       (5.4 pts.)
    ASMs (billions)                 1.436              1.419            1.2%
    RPMs (billions)                 1.064              1.129           (5.8%)

                              Year-to-date 2009  Year-to-date 2008   Change
    Load factor                     79.3%              81.6%       (2.3 pts.)
    ASMs (billions)                 7.260              6.852            6.0%
    RPMs (billions)                 5.758              5.589            3.0%

Last year at this time, WestJet benefited from a healthier Canadian economy and a fuel surcharge that contributed to its RASM.

Sean Durfy commented on RASM expectations for the second quarter of 2009 by saying, "A continued weakened economy and aggressive pricing are leading to reduced fare levels, making it a difficult quarter. RASM in the second quarter is showing significant declines, with an anticipated drop of 16 to 18 per cent year over year. While these challenges are comparable with what the North American airline industry is experiencing, we believe we are better positioned than most to return to stronger RASM results when the economy begins to rebound."

"This quarter we launched service to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Sydney, Nova Scotia domestically; and San Diego and San Francisco in the U.S.," said Sean Durfy. "We continue to focus on adding destinations and routes, rather than just increasing frequencies on existing routes. New destinations leverage and enhance our already strong network."

This disclosure contains forward-looking statements, including but not limited to, statements regarding projected RASM for the second quarter of 2009. These forward-looking statements are based on WestJet's current assumptions and beliefs. However, these forward-looking statements are subject to, and may be affected by, numerous risks and uncertainties, some of which are beyond WestJet's control. WestJet's results may differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, such statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include but are not limited to: changes in consumer demand, changes in fuel prices, general economic conditions, the competitive environment and other factors described in WestJet's public reports and filings which are available on WestJet's profile at Forward-looking statements are subject to change, and WestJet does not undertake to update, correct or revise any forward-looking statements as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable law.

About WestJet

WestJet is Canada's leading high-value, low-cost airline offering scheduled service throughout its 55-city North American and Caribbean network. Named one of Canada's most admired corporate cultures in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. WestJet offers increased legroom and leather seats on its modern fleet of 79 Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft and live seatback television provided by Bell TV. With future confirmed deliveries for an additional 42 aircraft, bringing its fleet to 121 by 2013, WestJet strives to be the number one choice for travellers.