MONTREAL (AP) _ Air Canada, which is fighting a takeover bid by Onex Corp., said Friday it earned $84 million in the third quarter in contrast to a loss of $41 million a year ago.

The 1998 figures were affected by a two-week pilots' strike that severely hindered service.

Earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 amounted to 44 cents a share, compared with a loss of 22 cents in the third quarter last year, Air Canada announced.

Revenue rose to $1.22 billion in the latest quarter from $1.0 billion a year earlier.

For the first nine months of this year, profit totaled $135 million, up from $2.7 million the previous year, the company said.

Revenue rose to $3.28 billion from $3.0 billion a year earlier.

``For the first nine months of 1999, Air Canada has recorded its best ever operating income and highest operating margin since the airline was privatized in 1988,'' Air Canada president and chief executive officer Robert Milton said in a news release.

The earnings ``validate that Air Canada is well-positioned to take the lead role in the restructuring of Canada's aviation industry,'' Milton said.

Air Canada this week offered to buy back shares in order to block the Onex takeover bid, helped by major investments by global partners Lufthansa and United Airlines.

The stock repurchase offered up to $540 million for 35 percent of the company's shares, which would give Air Canada a large enough voting bloc to defeat the Onex bid at a shareholder meeting Nov. 8 in Montreal. To win approval, Onex needs a two-thirds majority.

Air Canada has also offered to buy Canadian Airlines and run it as a separate company, and start a discount regional airline based in eastern Ontario as part of a restructuring plan for Canada's air industry.

Shares of Air Canada rose 12 1/2 cents to $6.50 in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.