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Air Canada sees higher bookings as COVID-19 travel curbs ease

Stock MarketsJul 23, 2021 09:55AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Air Canada planes are parked at Toronto Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada April 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo

(Reuters) -Air Canada forecast increased bookings for domestic and U.S.-bound flights in the winter as travel restrictions ease after reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Friday.

Canada's largest carrier predicted slower cash burn as travel comes back, although bookings overall remain below pre-pandemic levels.

"We are seeing steadily increasing bookings for the domestic, trans-border and Atlantic markets and to sun destinations for the coming winter," Chief Executive Michael Rousseau told analysts. "In fact, for the next winter sun travel, future bookings during some weeks in June were ahead of the same period in 2019."

Canada will allow fully vaccinated U.S. tourists to enter the country from Aug. 9, after the pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month ban.

Air Canada reported a net cash burn of about C$8 million ($6.36 million) per day during the second quarter, lower than earlier projections. It expects that number to improve to between C$3 million and C$5 million per day in the third quarter.

Carriers are adding flights, putting pressure on fares in some markets.

While domestic pricing is more challenging, on international routes "the environment is quite stable," Chief Commercial Officer Lucie Guillemette said while predicting a fall return in corporate travel.

Cargo flights, added during the pandemic, will be a more important part of the carrier's future, the airline said.

In April, Air Canada reached an aid deal with the country's federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion in funds.

Rousseau said the airline would decide later this year whether to opt out of the government's financing facilities.

Excluding items, Air Canada lost C$3.03 per share, according to Refinitiv data. Analysts on average expected a C$2.76 loss.

The airline's net loss was C$1.17 billion, or C$3.31 per share, in the quarter ended June 30, compared with a loss of C$1.75 billion, or C$6.44 per share, a year earlier.

($1 = 1.2569 Canadian dollars)

Air Canada sees higher bookings as COVID-19 travel curbs ease
 

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