Air Canada‘s comeback from pandemic shutdowns appears to be gaining momentum after the airline posted a profit in its latest quarter as passenger and operating revenues recovered to record highs.
The company reported a $168-million profit for the three months ending Dec. 31, a period that included the turbulent Christmas travel season and a continent-wide storm that caused “four-foot icicles” on some aircraft, an Air Canada executive shared during a call with analysts on Friday.
The Montreal-based airline said its fourth-quarter profit amounted to 41 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $493 million or $1.38 in the same period during 2021.
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Overall, Air Canada still posted a $1.7 billion loss for the year amid a rocky recovery from COVID-19 restrictions and the collapse of travel.
But its strong fourth quarter helped brighten the outlook for 2023 and chart a turnaround for Canada’s largest airline.
Indeed, Air Canada announced plans to boost capacity this year.
The company said it plans to increase its so-called available seat miles – an aviation term that refers to an airline’s carrying capacity and ability to generate revenues – by about 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the same period last year.
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For 2024, Air Canada said it expects its capacity to reach 2019 levels, a target that puts the airline on a path to a full post-pandemic rebound.
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“The progress is a tribute to the deep resilience we have built into our company for long term stability,” Michael Rousseau, chief executive of Air Canada, said during a call with analysts.
“We expect a solid demand environment in 2023,” he said. “In anticipation, we are building out our global network, continuing our narrow-body fleet renewal, and investing in technology and customer service.”
The company’s adjusted earnings totalled $389 million, an increase from $22 million in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Air Canada’s passenger revenues hit $4.062 billion, doubling from the fourth quarter 2021 and about two per cent higher than the same period in 2019.
Operating revenues reached $4.680 billion, 71 per cent higher than the fourth quarter 2021 and about six per cent higher than the same quarter in 2019.
© 2023 The Canadian Press
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