| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Air Canada to return to 2019 capacity next year but faces cost pressures

Following the release of a larger-than-anticipated quarterly loss per share, Air Canada announced on Friday that it would return to 2019 capacity levels in 2019.

In early trading, the carrier’s shares fell more than 10%.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the global economy and the rising cost of labor, North American carriers are increasing the number of seats to fulfill the soaring travel demand that has emerged following a pandemic-induced slump.

“We’re seeing significant inflationary pressures, again, because of labour shortages a little bit around the world,” Air Canada’s Chief Financial Officer Amos Kazzaz told analysts.

Prices for ground handling contracts, labour and catering are rising, he added.

Air Canada’s cost per available seat mile (CASM) is expected to rise about 13% to 15% above 2019 levels this year.

Canada’s largest carrier said it expects its 2023 capacity to increase by about 24% from a year earlier to hit 90% of pre-pandemic levels, after reporting record fourth-quarter revenue.

While corporate demand in North America has stabilized, international business travel is picking up, said Air Canada’s Chief Commercial Officer Lucie Guillemette, who is retiring in the spring.

“What we are seeing is a steady growth on corporate for international markets,” she said.

Air Canada Chief Executive Michael Rousseau said travel demand for leisure and visiting friends and relatives is making up for lower demand by business travelers.

Montreal-based Air Canada’s fourth-quarter operating revenue rose nearly 71% to C$4.68 billion ($3.46 billion). Analysts, on average, were expecting operating revenue of C$4.4 billion according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The carrier’s fourth-quarter adjusted net loss came in at C$217 million, or 61 Canadian cents per share, compared with an adjusted loss of C$577 million, or C$1.61 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting a loss of 21 Canadian cents per share.

  • Reuters