Air Canada says it's adding capacity to routes in Western Canada to meet demand

MONTREAL – Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) says it’s boosting capacity on routes in Western Canada this fall and winter to meet increased seasonal demand from Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and other cities in the region.

Much of the increased capacity will be in cities at the heart of Canada’s energy sector, including Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray, the focus of Alberta’s oilsands activity.

Air Canada will offer 350 seats daily on the Calgary-Fort McMurray route and the same number on the Edmonton-Fort McMurray route, up from 300 a year earlier during the fall-winter period.

The same increase will be seen on the Vancouver-Nanaimo route in British Columbia.

Capacity on the Edmonton-Regina, Edmonton-Saskatoon and Calgary-Yellowknife routes will be doubled to 100 daily seats, compared with 50 seats a year earlier.

Air Canada will also offer 250 daily seats between Vancouver and Fort St. John, B.C., and between Calgary and Grande Prairie, Alta.

“Air Canada is increasing capacity this fall and winter on key regional routes reflecting strong demand within Western Canada, the centre of the country’s energy and resource industries,” Air Canada vice-president Marcel Forget said in a statement.

The Montreal-based airline also said it will gradually introduce new Bombardier Q-400 turboprop aircraft to be operated by its affiliate Air Canada Jazz, starting next year. They’ll replace Bombardier CRJ regional jets.

Air Canada’s B shares (TSX:AC.B) rose to their highest level in more than a year on Thursday, extending an upward but bumpy trend that began last spring.

The stock was at $1.59 at mid-afternoon in moderately heavy volume but had been as high as $1.62 earlier in the session — a level that the Montreal-based airline hasn’t achieved since September 2011.