It’s only mid-July, but Canada’s major airlines are already wringing their hands over what’s expected to be a brutal fall and winter travel season.

WestJet Airlines said Thursday it is launching a 50 per cent off seat sale for travel between Sept. 8 and Dec. 16. It is also offering a price guarantee for those who book before July 23, but later find a cheaper fare for the same flight.

Air Canada, which had introduced its own 40 per cent off sale a day earlier, moved quickly to match WestJet’s fall sale fares.

Observers noted that this year’s sales are on top of fares that have already been discounted.

Both Air Canada and WestJet recently reported a slump in June load factors — the percentage of available seats filled — as consumers cut back on their travel spending during what is supposed to be one of the busiest travel periods.

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