National News

WestJet posts Q1 net earnings of $89.3M

By The Canadian Press

CALGARY - WestJet Airlines Ltd. posted first-quarter net earnings of $89.3 million, or 69 cents per diluted share, down two per cent from the same quarter last year.

However, the quarterly earnings per share were six cents ahead of analysts' estimates.

In the same quarter last year, WestJet earned a net profit of $91.1 million, or 68 cents per diluted share.

WestJet said revenue during the quarter totalled $1.042 billion, a gain of 7.7 per cent over the same period of 2013, in line with analysts' expectations.

The airline said the quarterly results include pre-tax recoveries of value-added taxes of $17.6 million associated with fuel costs and $2.5 million associated with airport costs from 2009 to 2013.

On Monday, WestJet (TSX:WJA) said it flew 1.6 million passengers in April, up 7.7 per cent or 116,000 extra passengers from the same month in 2013.

The Calgary-based airline said it had a load factor of 82.3 per cent, down from 82.7 per cent in the same month last year.

Its passenger traffic increased 6.5 per cent year over year, while capacity grew 7.1 per cent to 2.15 billion available seat miles.

"We had a very strong start to 2014, as we achieved our second-best ever firs- quarter earnings," WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky said in a news release on Tuesday.

He added that the first-quarter results represent a 36th consecutive profitable quarter and record earnings per share.

"Our continued track record of profitability combined with strong liquidity and solid market position contributed to Standard & Poor's assigning WestJet an investment grade credit rating of BBB- this past February," Saretsky said.

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