CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. topped expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit climbed more than 30 per cent compared with a year ago.
The airline said it earned $45.6 million or 40 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31 compared with a profit of $34.2 million or 30 cents per diluted share a year ago.
Revenue totalled $1.26 billion, up from $1.19 billion in the same quarter last year.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 30 cents per share and revenue of $1.28 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
The increased earnings came as WestJet saw both its capacity, measured by available seat miles, and its traffic, measured by revenue passenger miles, climb by 5.3 per cent compared with a year ago.
WestJet’s load factor, a measure of how full its aircraft were, held steady at 84.8 per cent in the quarter.
Analyst Doug Taylor of Canaccord Genuity called the results “mixed,” noting solid profits, but “slightly disappointing” revenue per available seat mile (RASM), a key performance measure.
WestJet’s RASM came in well below that of Air Canada, which posted its quarterly results Monday.
Both airlines have been scrambling to adjust their schedules in the fallout from the global grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
WestJet has 13 Max 8s, which make up about eight per cent of its roughly 160-plane fleet.