MIAMI — The impact of an uncertain economy has not held back the Calgary-based airline WestJet, as it reported a 33.4% increase in first-quarter net earnings, and a record load factor for the month of April—an encouraging signal for Albertans in today’s tough financial times.
In a report released Tuesday, the company announced its first quarter results for 2019, with net earnings of $45.6 million, a 5.5% increase in profit margin, among a minimal 0.3- percentage point decrease in operating margin from the same time last year.
“We remain confident in our strategic direction and continue to see positive trends as a result of our prudent growth and the strategic initiatives we are undertaking,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President, and CEO.
Boosting confidence in the future of Canada’s second-largest airline is its load factor—a closely watched metric that tries to measure how full the planes are of paying passengers. WestJet scored a record-breaking 87.7% performance, welcoming an additional 99,000 guests in April.
“In April, all preparatory work that went into two major initiatives culminated in the launch of our first transatlantic flight operated on our new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and the opening of our new wide-body hangar in Calgary,” added Sims.
“Both major programs launched on time, on budget and to scope,” he said. “Another testament to the execution and delivery capability we have built throughout our organization.”
The airline flew 6,282,781 travelers during this quarter, just over a 3% increase from 6,088,954 flown during the same period a year ago.
With a bleak financial outlook for the remainder of the province of Alberta and recovery at an almost standstill since the late-2015 recession caused by a global crisis in overproduction of oil, divesting in outside markets was imperative to keep WestJet viable and thriving in an austere economic terrain.
The flagship company stood apart from the rest of corporate Calgary at the onset of the downturn in its refusal to leave employees high and dry without jobs or an income to support their families.
Resorting instead to a policy of capping salaries for almost two thousand head office employees in 2016, instilling a hiring freeze and boycotting the usual handing-out of pink slips until it could safely shake off the effects of the impending recession – a strategic maneuver that paid off in dividends with consumer and staff loyalty now at an all-time high.