(Reuters) -Air Canada said on Friday it would add capacity during the start of 2022 as pandemic travel restrictions relax, after reporting a smaller fourth-quarter loss due to strong advance ticket sales despite a December Omicron outbreak.
Canada’s largest carrier, which lost C$3.6 billion in 2021, is adding flights and bringing back staff amid hopes for a further easing of government restrictions.
Shares rose around 2% in morning trade.
Canada’s largest provinces are reopening businesses and removing vaccine passport curbs as coronavirus cases drop and after facing mass protests against the measures.
“If bars and large public events can open at full capacity and if some provinces such as Quebec and Ontario can put an end to the vaccination passports, there is no reason to single out travel,” Rousseau told analysts.
Air Canada said it would increase its available seat miles capacity by 243% during the first three months of 2022, compared with the same quarter in 2021, although it was down 44% from 2019 levels.
A December travel warning by Canada was accompanied by additional testing in a blow to carriers that were counting on increased flying during the key holiday travel season after the country lifted border restrictions in August.
Canadian carriers were harder hit by restrictions than their U.S. counterparts.
“Although booking curve improvements and air cargo volume growth looks very encouraging …Air Canada’s pandemic-era recovery continues to lag its U.S. peers,” Citi Analyst Stephen Trent said in a note to clients.
Chief Commercial Officer Lucie Guillemette said she expects a rebound in lucrative business travel this year as companies return to the office.
The airline’s net loss was C$493 million ($388.10 million), or C$1.38 per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of C$1.16 billion, or C$3.91 per share, a year earlier.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru;Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Nick Macfie)