Chorus Aviation Inc. exercises options to acquire additional Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft

Chorus Aviation Inc. (Halifax) today announced it has exercised six of 15 options it holds to acquire additional Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) NextGen aircraft to be operated by its subsidiary, Jazz Aviation LP (Halifax) under the Air Canada Express brand.

Jazz will operate 16 Q400s this month under the Air Canada Express brand, which includes one Q400 on short term lease for the peak summer season only.  The Q400 aircraft accommodate 74 passengers, and are configured in a single cabin.  The six optioned Q400s are contracted to be delivered at a rate of two per month in February, March and April, 2013, and will be placed into operation the subsequent month.  A total of nine 50-seat CRJ100 aircraft will be removed from the Jazz fleet between December, 2012 and May, 2013. As a result, the covered fleet under the Capacity Purchase Agreement with Air Canada will be reduced from 125 to 122 aircraft, with the overall seating capacity, operated under the CPA with Air Canada, being held relatively constant.

The new aircraft will be leased via a Chorus leasing company to Jazz.  The purchase is supported by a third party lender under terms similar to the original order of 15 Q400 aircraft. The transaction is anticipated to be accretive to Chorus’ consolidated operating results. As required under the purchase agreement, Chorus has made pre-delivery payments of approximately $13 million USD which have been funded from current cash balances and will not impact Chorus’ current dividend policy.

In support of the continued fleet renewal program at Jazz, Air Canada and Jazz have agreed to amend their CPA to reflect the following:

  • Covered Aircraft reduced from 125 to 122 aircraft, resulting in a net reduction of six seats in the entire Jazz CPA fleet effective May, 2013 once all Q400 aircraft have been introduced into service.
  • In February 2013 when the number of Covered Aircraft reaches 122 aircraft, the annual minimum guaranteed Block Hours of 339,000 will be reduced to approximately 331,000 Block Hours to reflect the new number of Covered Aircraft.
  • The agreement between the parties does not change the mark-up on controllable costs structure and mark-up rates but establishes new metrics resulting from the new annual minimum guaranteed Block Hours as follows:
    • The Compensating Mark-up will now be applied based on the range between the new annual minimum Targeted Block Hours of approximately 367,000 and the revised annual minimum guaranteed Block Hours of approximately 331,000. The difference between the annual minimum guaranteed Block Hours and the annual minimum Targeted Block Hours remains at 36,000 Block Hours. This agreement also resolves one of the issues raised in the 2009 Benchmark Arbitration with reference to how the Compensating Mark-up formula will be applied.
    • Mark-up on variable controllable costs for annual Block Hours over 375,000 will remain at 5.0%.

The exercise of the six options and the amendments to the CPA do not result in any change to Chorus’ current annual Block Hour guidance for the year 2012 of between 385,000 and 400,000 hours.

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography.

Air Canada Express-Jazz: