Air Canada Reports Third Quarter 2020 Results
November 09, 2020 at 06:00 AM EST
MONTREAL, Nov. 9, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ - Total revenues of $757 million in the third quarter of 2020 declined $4.773 billion or 86 per cent from the third quarter of 2019. The airline reported third quarter 2020 negative EBITDA(1) or (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), excluding special items, of $554 million compared to third quarter 2019 EBITDA of $1.472 billion. Air Canada reported an operating loss of $785 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to operating income of $956 million in the third quarter of 2019. Total revenue passengers carried declined 88 per cent in the quarter compared to last year's third quarter. Unrestricted liquidity amounted to $8.189 billion at September 30, 2020.
"Today's results reflect COVID-19's unprecedented impact on our industry globally and on Air Canada in what has historically been our most productive and profitable quarter. From the outset, we have made the health and safety of our customers and employees our chief concern. Our airline has been a leader in introducing progressive layers of protection, such as our comprehensive suite of biosafety measures, Air Canada CleanCare+, and we continue to explore new technologies and processes to further assure travellers and regulators. Amongst the various science-based measures we have been advocating, testing at airports is by far the most significant, as demonstrated by the McMaster HealthLabs' study of international travellers arriving at Toronto-Pearson. It was reported to be the largest-ever study of its kind and preliminary results clearly confirm safe alternatives exist to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, which is both stifling demand and frustrating travellers who are willing to be tested," said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada.
"In parallel, we acted decisively to implement our COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan. Since March, we have raised almost $6 billion in additional liquidity, leveraging what was one of the industry's strongest balance sheets as we entered the pandemic. We took the painful steps of eliminating 20,000 jobs, after having created 10,000 over the previous five years, and of reversing 10 years of profitable network expansion by reducing capacity by more than 80 per cent in the third quarter.
"At the end of June, we made the difficult decision to indefinitely suspend 30 domestic routes and close eight regional stations and our Network Planning team has identified up to a further 95 domestic, U.S. transborder and international route suspensions and nine Canadian station closures required to preserve liquidity, cut costs and reduce capital expenditures as we prepare for a smaller footprint expected to last several years. Given the public statements made by the Honourable Marc Garneau, Canada's Minister of Transport, on November 8, 2020 regarding commencing immediate discussions with major airlines on aviation industry sector-specific support, we are deferring the additional route suspensions and station closures pending the progress of those discussions.
"According to IATA's Chief Economist, governments have already provided more than US$160 billion of aid to airlines globally, recognizing the critical role they play in a country's economy. Beyond sustaining tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, a healthy Canadian airline industry is essential for Canada's infrastructure on which its economic recovery from COVID-19 depends and vital to securing the country's place in a reordered, post-pandemic world. The impact on the industry and on the economy of how we as a country handle this crisis in air transportation will be felt for years to come.
"We have also continued our discussions with the Government of Canada on a more measured, science-based approach to travel restrictions and quarantines, which remain amongst the most onerous in the world. Preliminary results from several international studies and our McMaster HealthLabs study indicate testing can provide an effective responsible alternative to facilitate the safe relaxation of quarantines.
"We have taken several measures to carefully rationalize our existing fleet: We are accelerating the retirement of 79 mainline and Rouge aircraft. We are deferring delivery of new Boeing 737-8 and Airbus A220 aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2021 and 2022 and cancelling 10 Boeing 737-8s and 12 Airbus A220s, representing about 40 per cent of the remaining scheduled deliveries. Despite modifications made to our orders, these two aircraft remain the core of our narrowbody fleet and enable us to efficiently serve transcontinental domestic and transborder routes through improved economics and range, while providing an excellent customer experience. Through this fleet restructuring and other capital reduction initiatives, we have successfully lowered total projected capital expenditures by about $3.0 billion over the 2020 to 2023 period compared to our total projected capital expenditures at the end of 2019.
"In addition to the mitigation steps we have taken, Air Canada is also preparing for the post-COVID recovery. Along with other ongoing initiatives, this month we launched the new Aeroplan, expected to be one of the best travel loyalty programs available. Our simplified and restructured aircraft fleet will be highly fuel efficient and well-configured for our key routes. Our proposed acquisition of Transat A.T. Inc. will enable us to better compete with global competitors in a drastically altered global airline market. Our nimble Cargo team has pivoted to dedicated all-cargo flights during the pandemic and Cargo will become an increasingly important segment of our business going forward. Most importantly, our culture remains strong - we have employees who remain highly motivated and intensely focused on safely transporting our customers and I thank them for their commitment and hard work," concluded Mr. Rovinescu.
Air Canada has taken or will be taking the following measures as part of its COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan:
Customer Service and Safety
Capacity and Route Network
Financing and Liquidity
Cost Reduction and Capital Reduction and Deferral Program
Third Quarter Summary
Air Canada recorded a net loss of $685 million or $2.31 per diluted share compared to net income of $636 million or $2.35 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2019.
At September 30, 2020, net debt of $4.973 billion increased $2.132 billion from December 31, 2019, reflecting the impact of net cash used for operating and investing activities in the first nine months of 2020. The unfavourable impact of a weaker Canadian dollar, at September 30, 2020 compared to December 31, 2019, increased foreign currency denominated debt (mainly U.S. dollars) by $141 million.
In the third quarter of 2020, net cash flows used in operating activities of $286 million deteriorated by $1.120 billion from the same quarter in 2019 on lower operating results, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the third quarter of 2020, net cash used in financing activities amounted to $332 million, an improvement of $33 million from the third quarter of 2019. Net proceeds from debt financings amounted to $1.101 billion. Reduction of long-term debt and lease liabilities of $1.433 billion in the third quarter of 2020 included lump-sum repayments of $1.177 billion.
In the third quarter of 2020, net cash flows used in investing activities of $644 million reflected an increase of $554 million from the third quarter of 2019, mainly due to movements between cash and short and long-term investments.
In the third quarter of 2020, net cash burn(1) of $818 million (or approximately $9 million per day, on average) was significantly better than management's net cash burn expectations of between $1.35 billion and $1.6 billion (or between $15 million and $17 million per day, on average). This was due to a number of factors, including the deferral of certain capital expenditures, higher cash receipts related to the CEWS program, and additional working capital benefits resulting from both a deferral of supplier payments into future periods and from income and sales tax recoveries which had been forecast to occur in later periods.
Outlook and Major Assumptions
As indicated above, Air Canada plans to reduce its fourth quarter 2020 capacity by approximately 75 per cent from the same quarter in 2019. The airline will continue to dynamically adjust capacity and take other measures as required to account for health warnings, travel restrictions, quarantines, border closures globally and passenger demand.
Air Canada projects net cash burn of between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion (or between $12 million and $14 million per day, on average) in the fourth quarter of 2020. This net cash burn projection includes $4 million per day in capital expenditures and $5 million per day in lease and debt service costs. When compared to the third quarter of 2020, the higher projected net cash burn in the fourth quarter of 2020 is due to a number of factors, including an increase in end-of-lease payments due to more aircraft being returned to lessors, stabilization of supplier payment deferrals affecting working capital, lower cash receipts related to the CEWS program, and a higher level of capital expenditures, in part due to additional scheduled Airbus A220 aircraft deliveries.
As discussed above, the Honourable Marc Garneau made public statements on November 8, 2020 related to aviation industry sector-specific support. Air Canada will provide an update when Government of Canada support arrangements have been finalized.
(1) Non-GAAP Measures
Below is a description of certain non-GAAP financial measures used by Air Canada to provide readers with additional information on its financial and operating performance. Such measures are not recognized measures for financial statement presentation under GAAP, do not have standardized meanings, may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other entities and should not be considered a substitute for, or superior to, GAAP results. Readers are advised to review the section entitled Non-GAAP Financial Measures in Air Canada's Third Quarter 2020 MD&A for a further discussion and a reconciliation of non-GAAP measures to Canadian GAAP.
Air Canada's Third Quarter 2020 Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes and its Third Quarter 2020 Management's Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations and Financial Condition are available on Air Canada's website at aircanada.com and will be filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
For further information on Air Canada's public disclosure file, including Air Canada's Annual Information Form dated March 30, 2020, consult SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Third Quarter Analyst Conference Call
Air Canada will host its quarterly analysts' call today, November 9, 2020 at 08:30 E.T. Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Rousseau, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, and Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, will be available for analysts' questions. Immediately following the analysts' Q&A session, Mr. Rousseau and Pierre Houle, Managing Director and Treasurer, will be available to answer questions from term loan B lenders and holders of Air Canada's bonds.
Media and the public may access this call on a listen-in basis. Details are as follows:
Dial 416-340-2217 or 1-800-806-5484 Passcode: 9933124#
Live audio webcast: https://bell.media-server.com/mmc/p/j6iivqtc
CAUTION REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results and estimates of amounts not yet determinable. These statements may involve, but are not limited to, comments relating to guidance, strategies, expectations, planned operations or future actions. Forward-looking statements are identified using terms and phrases such as "preliminary", "anticipate", "believe", "could", "estimate", "expect", "intend", "may", "plan", "predict", "project", "will", "would", and similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions. Forward-looking statements, by their nature, are based on assumptions, including those described herein and are subject to important risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements cannot be relied upon due to, among other things, changing external events and general uncertainties of the business. Actual results may differ materially from results indicated in forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those discussed below.
Air Canada, along with the rest of the global airline industry, is facing a severe and abrupt drop in traffic and a corresponding decline in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions imposed in many countries around the world, and particularly in Canada as well as the United States. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began to be felt in traffic and sales figures commencing in early March 2020. These impacts include drastic declines in earnings and cash from operations. There is very limited visibility on travel demand given changing government restrictions in place around the world and the severity of the restrictions in Canada; these restrictions and concerns about travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as passenger concerns and expectations about the need for certain precautions, such as physical distancing, are severely inhibiting demand. The COVID-19 pandemic is also having significant economic impacts, including on business and consumer spending, which may in turn significantly impact demand for travel. Air Canada cannot predict the full impact or the timing for when conditions improve. Air Canada is actively monitoring the situation and will respond as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, which will depend on a number of factors including the course of the virus, government actions, and passenger reaction, as well as timing of a recovery in international and business travel which are important segments of Air Canada's market, none of which can be predicted with any degree of certainty.
Other factors which may cause results to differ materially from results indicated in forward-looking statements include our ability to successfully achieve or sustain positive net profitability, economic and geopolitical conditions, our ability to pay our indebtedness and maintain liquidity, industry and market conditions and the demand environment, competition, the timing and conditions of the return to service of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into our fleet (including the introduction of those on order and the management of our fleet and operations until their return to service or introduction), energy prices, our dependence on technology, our ability to successfully implement appropriate strategic and other important initiatives (including our ability to reduce operating costs), cybersecurity risks, war, terrorist acts, other epidemic diseases, our dependence on key suppliers, casualty losses, changes in laws, regulatory developments or proceedings, our ability to successfully launch and operate our new loyalty program, climate change and environmental factors (including weather systems and other natural phenomena and factors arising from man-made sources), interruptions of service, our dependence on regional and other carriers, our ability to preserve and grow our brand, employee and labour relations and costs, our dependence on Star Alliance and joint ventures, limitations due to restrictive covenants, pending and future litigation and actions by third parties, currency exchange, pension plans, our ability to attract and retain required personnel, insurance issues and costs, as well as the factors identified in Air Canada's public disclosure file available at www.sedar.com and, in particular, those identified in section 14 "Risk Factors" of Air Canada's Third Quarter 2020 MD&A and section 20 "Risk Factors" of Air Canada's 2019 MD&A. Furthermore, the acquisition of Transat A.T. Inc. is subject to shareholder approval, court approval, satisfaction of customary listing conditions of the Toronto Stock Exchange, regulatory approvals and certain customary and other conditions, and there are no assurances that the acquisition will be completed as described in Air Canada's Third Quarter 2020 MD&A or at all. In addition, there can be no assurance that government support will be provided on terms acceptable to Air Canada or at all. The forward-looking statements contained or incorporated by reference in this news release represent Air Canada's expectations as of the date of this news release or as of the date they are otherwise stated to be made) and are subject to change after such date. However, Air Canada disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether because of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable securities regulations.
About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline. Canada's flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2019 served over 51 million customers. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world's most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax, which also named Air Canada the 2019 Best Airline in North America. For more information, please visit: aircanada.com/media, follow Air Canada on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join Air Canada on Facebook.
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The financial and operating highlights for Air Canada for the periods indicated are as follows:
SOURCE Air Canada