Chorus Aviation posts a second quarter net profit of $22.9 million

Chorus Aviation Inc. (Jazz Aviation) (Air Canada Express) (Halifax) has announced its second quarter 2012 earnings, with net income of (all currencies in Canadian dollars) $22.9 million or $0.18 per share, and adjusted net income1 of $27.4 million or $0.22 per share.

Q2 2012 Highlights:

  • Operating revenue of $426.3 million.
  • Free Cash Flow1 of $38.7 million, or $0.31 per share.
  • Operating income of $36.6 million.
  • Net income of $22.9 million, or $0.18 per share.
  • Adjusted net income1 of $27.4 million, or $0.22 per share.

The full report:

Financial Performance -Second Quarter 2012 Compared to Second Quarter 2011

Operating revenue increased from $402.0 million to $426.3 million, representing an increase of $24.2 million or 6.0%.  Passenger revenue, excluding pass-through costs, increased by $25.7 million or 10.8% primarily as a result of $9.0 million related to the early termination of the Thomas Cook Flight Services Agreement, rate increases made pursuant to the CPA, an adjustment of $1.8 million related to the new rates which were retroactive to January 1, 2012,  a higher US dollar exchange rate, and a $1.4 million increase in incentives earned under the CPA with Air Canada; offset by a $1.9 million or 1.2% decrease in pass-through costs from $161.1 million to $159.2 million, which included $5.3 million related to fuel. Other revenue increased by $0.3 million.

Operating expenses increased from $378.1 million to $389.7 million, an increase of $11.6 million or 3.1%.  Controllable Costs increased by $13.5 million, or 6.2%; offset by a decrease in pass-through costs of $1.9 million.  Controllable operating expenses were impacted by the changes in the fleet ownership structure for the Q400 aircraft.  CRJ100 aircraft, previously under operating leases, are being replaced by owned Q400 aircraft, whose ownership costs are comprised of depreciation under operating expenses, and interest under non-operating expenses. The Q400 aircraft lease revenue under the CPA is captured under operating revenue and is designed to provide compensation to Chorus for both depreciation and interest expense.  As interest expense is shown below the operating margin, operating income increased by a similar amount on a quarter over quarter basis.

Depreciation and amortization expense increased by $4.0 million, of which $3.0 million is related to the purchase of Q400 aircraft, with the balance due to the increased major maintenance overhauls and increased capital expenditures on aircraft rotable parts and other equipment; offset by certain assets reaching full amortization.

Aircraft maintenance expense increased by $2.3 million as a result of increased Block Hours of $0.4 million, the effect of the increase in the US-dollar exchange rate on certain material purchases of $1.3 million, and increased other maintenance costs of $2.6 million; offset by a decrease in engine maintenance activity due to the return of CRJ aircraft of $2.0 million.

Salaries, wages and benefits increased by $2.8 million as a result of wage and scale increases under new collective agreements, increased Block Hours, and increased pension expense resulting from a revised actuarial valuation; offset by a reduction in the number of full time equivalent employees.

Other expenses increased by $3.4 million primarily due to increased general overhead expenses (crew expenses increased due to increased activity, rates and training expenses) and professional fees.

Non-operating expenses increased $7.8 million.  This change was mainly attributable to a foreign exchange loss of $4.8 million (of which $4.5 million was related to an unrealized foreign exchange loss on long-term debt and finance leases) arising as a result of the change in value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar, and increased interest expense related to the Q400 aircraft financing of $2.1 million.

EBITDA1 was $50.4 million compared to $33.9 million in 2011, an increase of $16.5 million or 48.9%.  Free Cash Flow was $38.7 million, an increase of $15.4 million or 66.5% from $23.3 million.

Operating income of $36.6 million for the three months ended June 30, 2012, was up $12.6 million or 52.6% over second quarter 2011 from $24.0 million.

Net income for the second quarter of 2012 was $22.9 million or $0.18 per share, an increase of $6.0 million or 35.3% from $16.9 million or $0.14 per share.

CPA rate setting negotiations

On August 7, 2012, Jazz and Air Canada finalized an agreement on the establishment of new rates for controllable costs that are payable by Air Canada under the CPA in respect of the years 2012 to 2014 inclusive.  This rate review and adjustment is required under the terms of the CPA. The new rates are retroactive to January 1, 2012, and the parties have reconciled the amounts previously paid to the amount owing based on the new rates. The reconciliation is conducted so that the parties will be in the same position they would have been had the new rates been in effect as of January 1, 2012.

Update on investment in South American regional carrier Pluna.

On April 30, 2010, Chorus purchased a 33% non-voting interest in Latin American Regional Aviation Holding Corporation (LARAH).  LARAH held an indirect 75% equity interest in Pluna Líneas Aéreas Uruguayas S.A. The remaining 25% equity interest in Pluna was held, indirectly, by the Government of Uruguay.

In the second quarter of 2012, it was announced that Pluna was in financial difficulty, and that the Uruguayan government had taken control of the airline, allowing it to continue operating.  All of the shares in Pluna held indirectly by LARAH, including the portion indirectly owned by Chorus, were placed in trust with the Montevideo Stock Exchange in return for certain conditions and indemnities from the Uruguayan government.  As a result, Chorus recorded a write-down of $16.4 million to the fair value of the investment through other comprehensive loss, as there is no indication that the LARAH shares hold any current value, and there can be no assurances that a successful recapitalization of Pluna will result in Chorus holding an ownership stake in the resulting entity.

Subsequent to June 30, 2012, Pluna announced that it had ceased operations indefinitely.  The situation with Pluna has no effect on Jazz operations or current cash flows.

1 Non-GAAP Financial Measures

Copyright Photo: TMK Photography. Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) C-GGOI (msn 4381) arrives at the Toronto (Pearson) hub.

Air Canada Express-Jazz: