Air Canada has turned in a first-quarter operating loss of C$188 million ($161 million), a significant deterioration on the loss of C$12 million for the same period last year.

Passenger revenues for the period were down by 13% to C$2 billion after a near-11% fall in traffic and a 2.3% decline in yield.

Unit costs rose by 5% but this figure increased to 9.4% excluding fuel expenditure, largely as a result of weak Canadian-US currency rates.

But this figure, says the airline, is below the 13.5-14.5% increase forecast in February, because certain operating expenses - including maintenance, aircraft rent and personnel costs - were lower than expected.

The airline's net loss for the first three months amounted to C$400 million - compared with C$288 million last year - following foreign exchange losses of C$101 million.

Passenger load factor declined by 0.5 points to 79.5%. As of 31 March the carrier had cash and short-term investments totalling C$1.1 billion.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news