CALGARY, May 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - WestJet (TSX:WJA) today announced first quarter results for 2009. The airline reported net earnings of $37.4 million, or 29 cents per diluted share.
"Thanks to the continued hard work and dedication of our WestJetters, we once again differentiated ourselves as an industry leader, and we are extremely pleased with our strong start to 2009," commented Sean Durfy, WestJet President and CEO. "Our first quarter results demonstrate that our business strategy is staying the course; we successfully continued our growth and delivered profitable results while withstanding less than ideal economic conditions."
Compared to airlines who have reported their first quarter results, WestJet continues to have one of the best pre-tax margins in North America, having reported a first quarter earnings before tax (EBT) margin of 8.7 per cent.
"Our results reinforce the value of our healthy brand, unrivaled guest experience and commitment to being cost efficient," added Sean Durfy.
Low-cost air carrier WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA.T) is cutting back on its growth plans for 2009 as the weak economy and flu pandemic concerns have sharply curtailed Canadian travel plans.
Calgary-based WestJet now expects to increase its capacity by only 3% this year, down from a planned 5%. For the second quarter, which began in April, growth will be cut to only 1-2%, down sharply from the 7.2% seen in the first quarter and an expected increase of 5%.
Chief Executive Sean Durfy said the outbreak of the H1N1 flu caused the airline to temporarily drop its Mexico routes, while intense competition combined with slowing demand has caused the airline to reduce less-profitable domestic routes.
"We're tweaking the schedule," Durfy said on a quarterly conference call.