February 5, 2019 2:13 pm
Updated: February 5, 2019 2:17 pm

WestJet Airlines’ Q4 earnings down 39% in part due to high jet fuel costs

Jan 2, 2019: Fuel analyst predicts wild and bumpy ride for 2019 gas prices

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WestJet Airlines Ltd. saw surging jet fuel prices dent its profits in its fourth quarter, with net earnings falling 39 per cent year over year.

Passenger revenue grew seven per cent last quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, but fuel costs rose 21 per cent to $304.9 million, WestJet said, cancelling out some of the gains.

Oil and jet fuel prices climbed to four-year highs in October, though fell sharply afterward, according to the International Air Transport Association.

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READ MORE: WestJet aims for turnaround after turbulent year that saw profits plummet

WestJet earned $29.2 million in the fourth quarter, down from $47.8 million in the same period a year earlier.

The profit amounted to 26 cents per diluted share for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with 41 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Revenue for the Calgary-based company totalled $1.19 billion in the last three months of 2018, up from $1.12 billion a year earlier.

READ MORE: Canadian plane ticket prices rose more than 10% in a year: report

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 13 cents per share for the quarter and revenue of $1.19 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Volatile fuel prices and exchange rates have “created downward pressure on margins” for WestJet and Air Canada, “despite the healthy demand environment and strong revenue growth,” CIBC World Markets analyst Kevin Chiang said in an investor note.

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For the full year, WestJet said it earned $91.5 million or 80 cents per diluted share, down from $279.1 million or $2.38 per diluted share in 2017.

Revenue totalled $4.73 billion for 2018, up from $4.51 billion.

WATCH BELOW (Dec. 4, 2018): The president and CEO of Canada’s second-largest airline says there’s good reason why Canadians pay more to fly domestically. Ed Sims says airport improvement fees in Canada play a major factor. Sean O’Shea reports.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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