May 8, 2022 By Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — The head of Chorus Aviation Inc. says travellers are returning to the skies en masse, leaving the company poised to benefit after feeling the pinch of COVID-19’s fifth wave last quarter.
“I think the pace of the recovery is extremely strong. People are anxious to get back up in the air,” CEO Joe Randell told analysts on a conference call Friday.
The Halifax-based company, which leases planes across the globe and provides regional service for Air Canada via Chorus subsidiary Jazz Aviation, will see its fleet “very fully utilized” this summer, including Jazz’s 48 planes, he said.
“It’s all go.”
Business travel, which yields fatter margins and a traditionally disproportionate share of ticket earnings, is also starting to come back after a much slower rebound than leisure trips.
“Anecdotally I see all kinds of signs of business travel picking up. We had our board meeting here yesterday with folks from Ireland and California, etc. Everybody’s travelling,” Randell said from Halifax.
“As a matter of fact, we’re leaving again on Sunday night … All signs are very positive.”
Prompting the Chorus executives’ trips was a flurry of activity around its acquisition of London-based plane-leasing outfit Falko Regional Aircraft Ltd. The deal, which closed Tuesday, boosts Chorus’s customer base to 32 airlines from 19 across 23 countries, up from 16.
The 16-year-old company now has US$4.5 billion of assets under management and owns, manages or operates 348 regional aircraft.
Despite Randell’s optimism, Chorus saw mixed earnings results that beat first-quarter revenue expectations but fell short on adjusted earnings.
The company’s net income of $22.9 million in the quarter ended March 31 marked a strong bounce-back from a loss of $38.1 million in the same period last year. And operating revenues rose 69 per cent to $342.4 million from $202.5 million.
However, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rang in at $83 million, below consensus of $86 million, according to RBC Capital Markets.
Adjusted net income of $17.7 million or 10 cents per basic share last quarter marked a jump from $15.7 million in 2021.
The company’s share price fell 4.2 per cent or 16 cents to $3.65 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.