WestJet has reported a profit of $44-million for its fiscal second quarter, compared with a loss of $15.8-million in the same quarter a year ago.
Revenues rose by almost 12% to $1.2-billion for the three months ending 30JUN as the airline flew 3.5% more passengers, the airline said in an announcement released after markets closed on Friday.
WS had been scheduled to release its financial results this week, but moved up the date – and cancelled a conference call with analysts – in light of the coming takeover by private equity company Onex Corporation.
"We are very pleased with this significant return to second quarter profitability." said WestJet President & CEO Ed Sims. "I want to acknowledge the remarkable effort of all 14,000 WestJetters who rose to the challenge of delivering this notable improvement in year over year performance and thank all of our guests for their continued loyalty."
In its second-quarter financial statement, WestJet said the loss of capacity due to the grounding of its 13 Boeing 737 MAX planes was “largely offset” by its WestJet Swoop and WestJet Link feeder airline. The tighter capacity drove higher ticket prices, as revenue per passenger mile rose by 8.5%, more than making up for a 4% rise in costs per seat mile. Load factor for the quarter was a very high 87.2%, up 3.3 points year-over-year.
WestJet currently has 181 planes in its fleet, including the 13 grounded MAX jets, and it has another 57 MAX aircraft on order. So far, WS has removed the MAX from its schedule through to 29AUG, but that is sure to be extended in the near future. The grounding has resulted in suspended routes, including Halifax-Paris, Vancouver-Regina and Toronto-Kelowna.
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, WS CEO Ed Sims said he has no plans to cancel the outstanding orders for the MAX.
He said he has full confidence in the abilities of WestJet and the country’s pilots to operate the plane safely. “I believed in this aircraft from day one. I like the length and the range. I love the fuel efficiency and I love the guest experience on this aircraft,” Sims told the newspaper.
In other WestJet news, the carrier took another step toward approval of its acquisition by Onex when the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta granted a final order approving the transaction. The deal is still subject to other conditions to closing, including receipt of the remaining regulatory approvals.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.