Airlines “making a killing” with lower fuel prices
Nick Hays, vice-president Canada for Cathay Pacific called the weak Canadian dollar a “double-edged” sword; buying in Canadian dollars presents a disadvantage but the low Canadian dollar was a definite advantage in bringing more passengers to Canada. “It has made travel to Canada more attractive,” said Hays.
WestJet’s Brad Turner, director of sales strategy and distribution, said the weak Canadian dollar did place pressure on the carrier’s cost, not just fuel prices but other goods and services and costs of flying to the U.S. “The upside is more travel to Canada,” he said, adding WestJet is looking at a strong summer leisure and travel market and has seen strong winter traffic.
Turner said that the low oil prices have also hit travel from Alberta and Saskatchewan – two provinces where the oil patch generates both business and leisure travellers – but that the airline has been able to diversify and shift that capacity to Eastern Canada and Europe.
The airline is hoping that it can bring the same business model that it pioneered in Western Canada to other international and long-haul markets. “We will always be the high-value, low-cost carrier,” he said.
Air Canada’s Duncan Bureau, vice-president of global sales, said that fuel costs are continuing to have a phenomenal impact on Air Canada’s performance. Air Canada’s challenge as it goes forward is to maintain a balanced performance during the highs and lows that fuel prices impact on the industry today so that the airline can continue its capital cost investments projected in the future, he said.
Air Canada reported net income for 2015 profits of $1.222 billion or $4.18 per diluted share compared to 2014 adjusted net income of $531 million or $1.81, adding $691 million or $2.37 per dilute share to its yield. WestJet, in 2015, reported an all-time high net earnings of $367.5 million or $2.92 per fully diluted share, up 16 and 19% respectively as compared to its 2014 adjusted results.
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