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Transat says it's on track for strong winter season amid demand for sun destinations

MONTREAL — Tour operator Transat A.T. Inc. says it's on track for a strong winter travel season amid a rebound in sun destination sales that promise to match pre-pandemic levels.

"The recovery emerging at the end of the last quarter has been confirmed in recent months," Transat CEO Annick Guérard said in a statement Thursday. "The pace of sales is currently very comparable to 2019."

Her comments came as the Montreal-based travel company posted a third-quarter loss that was smaller than a year ago.

Transat reported a net loss attributable to shareholders of $106.5 million or $2.82 per diluted share for the quarter ended July 31.

The result compared with a loss of $138.1 million or $3.66 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue for the quarter totalled $508.3 million, up from $12.5 million in its third quarter of 2021 when it had almost no operations.

"Although the quarterly results are still affected by the costs of resuming operations, July was our first profitable month in more than two years, setting the stage for improved results," Guérard said.

"The strong pricing this quarter also partially absorbed the increase in fuel costs, the adverse effect of which is likely to persist for some time."

On a conference call with analysts, she said the company estimates it will be able to recuperate "anywhere between 30 to 40 per cent" of the cost increase in fuel through higher pricing.

Transat said its current cash position, combined with new financing obtained during the third quarter, gives it flexibility for the future.

The travel company said load factors, a metric used by airlines to measures the percentage of seating filled with passengers, have been improving in recent months.

Transat said it has also been benefitting from the last-minute booking trend.

When asked about the Canadian Transportation Agency's new air passenger rules that took effect Thursday, Guérard said they "will not impact (the) business moving forward because (Transat) already applied all those measures."

The new regulations require airlines to issue a full refund for cancellations and delays if passengers are not placed on a new flight within 48 hours, including for reasons outside of the airline's control.

In addition, the ticket price may also be reimbursed through credit or vouchers and is to be paid in full by the airline within 30 days.

On an adjusted basis, Transat said it lost $3.20 per diluted share in its most recent quarter compared with an adjusted loss of $3.06 per diluted per share a year ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRZ)

The Canadian Press