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Air Canada Narrows Fourth-Quarter Loss on Increase in Passengers

Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, narrowed its fourth-quarter loss as it attracted more passengers and cut its aircraft maintenance bill.

Excluding foreign exchange effects, the loss was 2 Canadian cents a share, compared with a 60-cent loss a year earlier. That compares with a 23-cent loss average estimate from a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts.

Competition for Canada’s largest airline is set to increase later this year as discount rival WestJet Airlines Ltd. begins operating its Encore regional unit. Air Canada responded Feb. 1 by introducing turboprop service in Western Canada, WestJet’s backyard, and boosting capacity to meet “strong” demand.

Air Canada said Dec. 18 it plans to begin operating a low-cost carrier, called Air Canada Rouge, in July to help capture additional traffic. The company plans to hire 200 flight attendants and pilots for the new unit, which will initially serve destinations in Europe and the Caribbean.

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