Chorus Aviation Inc. reported its 2020 second quarter results (ended June 30) with operating revenue of $184.2 million, a decrease of $148.3 million or 44.6 per cent, when compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019. For the first six months of its current fiscal year, Chorus reported a decrease of 19.8 per cent in operating revenue, from $676.4 million to $542.2 million, relative to the corresponding 2019 period.
Headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Chorus is comprised of Chorus Aviation Capital, a global lessor of regional aircraft, as well as aircraft operators Jazz Aviation and Voyageur Aviation.
“The team has dramatically reduced costs, curtailed capital investment and raised new funding. With $228 million in liquidity, we are well positioned to manage through an extended recovery period and to participate in the growth of the aviation industry in the future,” said Joe Randell, president and CEO, Chorus. “The COVID-19 crisis, provincial and federal government-imposed travel restrictions and border closures continue to have a devastating effect on passenger demand for Canadian air travel. While these may have been necessary in the beginning, Canada’s federal and interprovincial travel restrictions are now one of the most severe in the world.”
Randell points to the mandatory two-week quarantine requirement in Nova Scotia, as an example, for how these restrictions are making the business of aviation difficult. “The Canadian and provincial governments need to look to other G20 countries that have implemented safe, thoughtful, practical and science-based approaches to strategically easing travel restrictions in order to enable business and economies to restart and succeed within this new normal,” he said. “Unlike other countries, Canada has not provided sector support to the aviation industry.”
Randell describes some of the difficult decisions made by the company, including a previously announced workforce reduction of approximately 65 per cent, or almost 3,200 employees. He also notes the pending impact of Air Canada’s decision, made at the end of the second quarter, to discontinue 21 Air Canada Express regional routes operated by Jazz, and the closure of eight Jazz-managed stations at regional airports.
“I am saddened by the impact these service cancellations have on our employees, suppliers and the affected communities many of which have lost their only link to Canada’s domestic and global air service networks,” he said. “These are unprecedented times. I respect and understand the tough choice our partner, Air Canada, has had to make. Without regional air service, many businesses, academia and tourism operators will struggle. Action needs to be taken by government to ensure Canada has an efficient and accessible air transportation network across our vast country.”
In the financial release, Randell also describes some positive signs of business resurgence, including affirmation for the importance of regional aircraft to domestic transportation networks, which have generally resumed flying at a quicker pace than long-haul travel.
“For example, in the second quarter our Air Canada Express operation flew approximately nine per cent of the block hours flown in the same period last year. However, we expect this to increase to be between 20 per cent and 30 per cent for the balance of this year compared to 2019,” said Randell. “Approximately 50 per cent of our third-party leased fleet is now flying with the number of flight hours up from the low points of this past spring.”