Chorus Aviation to Hold Virtual Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders

From Chorus Aviation Inc

HALIFAX, June 1, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (“Chorus“) will hold its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders (the “Meeting“) on Monday, June 29, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. (Atlantic Time).  

The Meeting will be held in virtual format only via live audio webcast to proactively manage the unprecedented public health impact of COVID-19, and to mitigate risks to the health and safety of our communities, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders.

Shareholders of record on May 15, 2020 or their duly appointed proxyholders will have an opportunity to participate in the Meeting, to ask questions and vote in real time, regardless of their geographic location. The live audio webcast will be accessible at www.web.lumiagm.com/162430091.

Duly appointed proxyholders, including non-registered (beneficial) shareholders that have appointed themselves or another person as a proxyholder, must register the proxyholder to obtain a Control Number by calling AST Trust Company (Canada) at 1-866-751-6315 (within North America) or 1 (212) 235-5754 (outside of North America) by no later than 5:00 p.m. (Toronto time) on June 25, 2020. Failure to register a proxyholder online will result in the proxyholder not receiving a Control Number, which is required to vote at the meeting.

Please refer to Chorus’ management proxy circular (the “circular“) for information on how to participate in the Meeting.

A recording will be available beginning approximately two hours after the Meeting at www.chorusaviation.com.

Chorus has adopted the notice-and-access method of delivering the circular for the Meeting. This means that the circular is posted online at www.chorusaviation.com, on www.meetingdocuments.com/ASTca/CHR and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

Jazz Aviation honoured with Outstanding Commitment to Employment Equity award

From Chorus Aviation Inc

HALIFAX, May 25, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (‘Chorus’) (TSX: CHR) is proud to announce that its subsidiary, Jazz Aviation LP (‘Jazz’), is a recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Commitment to Employment Equity award. Each year, Employment and Social Development Canada recognizes federally regulated private-sector employers and federal contractors for their efforts in implementing employment equity in their workplaces. Previously, Jazz received the Sector Distinction award in 2018 and 2017.

“We are honoured to be recognized for our commitment to employment equity,” said Randolph deGooyer, President, Jazz. “Over the last decade, we have been on a journey to evolve our culture into one that actively celebrates and truly values diversity. We have implemented a number of industry-leading initiatives that have contributed to making our workspaces more inclusive and creating a sense of belonging for our employees.”

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, announced the 2019 Employment Equity Achievement award winners in a news release issued May 20, 2020. The Outstanding Commitment to Employment Equity award recognizes employers that have demonstrated outstanding commitment in implementing their employment equity plans by instituting measures to remove barriers, adopting special measures, and/or establishing positive policies and practices to achieve tangible results.

Chorus profits fall 152% as COVID-19 hits industry, prompting cost cuts

News from BNN Bloomberg – link to story

The Canadian Press – 15 May 2020

Chorus Aviation
An Air Canada Jazz aircraft sits at a terminal at the Ottawa airport on April 13, 2012. , THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

HALIFAX — Chorus Aviation Inc. saw profits drop by more than 150 per cent year over year last quarter as the COVID-19 outbreak wreaks havoc on the airline industry.

The regional aviation company reported a net loss of $17.3 million for the quarter ended March 31, compared with earnings of $33.45 million last year, as net income decreased by $50.7 million due in part to a change in net unrealized foreign exchange losses.

Chorus has placed more than 3,000 workers on temporary layoff or off-duty status, on top of slashing capital expenditures and cutting compensation for management and staff to trim costs.

The reductions come as its contract work for Air Canada Express has been chopped by 90 per cent for April and May. Delayed delivery of planes from Bombardier will further hit revenue in the partnership, Chorus said.

The company has also had to delay the planned expansion of its leasing division because of market uncertainty, saying “substantially all” of its current leasing customers have asked for some form of temporary rent relief.

Chorus said it received only one quarter of its contractual lease payments for April.

Clients CityJet and Virgin Australia are undergoing “bankruptcy-like procedures and it is not clear whether either airline will need these planes,” wrote Financial Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen.

As the federal government gears up to deliver relief measures for hard-hit industries, smaller airlines worry they’ll be left out.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that federal financing will be available to the country’s largest employers to help weather the COVID-19 economic crisis. Loans will start at $60 million for companies with at least $300 million in annual revenues.

Chorus and other regional carriers, most of which fall far short of that threshold, fear they might go under without a tailor-made support program from Ottawa as border shutdowns and the collapse of global travel continue to choke off demand.

For the first quarter, Chorus reported revenue rose less than two per cent year over year to $350 million.

Adjusted net income reached $25 million, up from $19 million last year, as it started off the year in a good financial shape before the pandemic hit. Adjusted earnings per share hit 16 cents, up from 13 cents a year earlier and beating analyst expectations of 17 cents, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The airline’s total liquidity now stands at $265 million, including a recent US$100 million unsecured loan.

The company’s share price fell seven per cent or 18 cents Friday to close at $2.39 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Chorus Aviation Announces First Quarter 2020 Financial Results and Update on COVID-19 Measures

From Chorus Aviation Inc

Q1 2020 Financial Highlights

  • Net loss of $17.3 million, or $(0.11) per basic share; a period-over-period decrease of $50.7 million due to the change in unrealized foreign exchange of $55.1 million.
  • Adjusted net income1 of $25.0 million, or $0.16 per basic share; an increase of $6.0 million quarter-over-quarter due to the growth in the Regional Aircraft Leasing segment offset by a reduction in the Regional Aviation Services segment.
  • Adjusted EBITDA1 of $88.7 million; an increase of $14.0 million over first quarter 2019.

Recent Developments

  • Increased cash and committed facilities to over $265 million through securing a two-year US$100.0 million unsecured revolving credit facility along with principal and interest payment deferrals for certain aircraft loans until September 30, 2020.
  • Continued to focus on the health and safety of employees and passengers and accessed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program for Jazz employees, mitigating significant employee reductions and supporting business resumption plans.
  • Planning to commence operation of a Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter under the Air Canada Express banner, allowing Chorus to transport loose load cargo like medical supplies, personal protective equipment and other goods needed to support the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
  • Published Chorus’ first Corporate Sustainability Report, describing Chorus’ commitment to safety, our people, communities and the environment.

HALIFAX, May 14, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (‘Chorus’) (TSX: CHR) today announced first quarter 2020 financial results and measures to further strengthen the organization.

“Our company started this year in the strongest position in our history, having a strong balance sheet, customer base and growth prospects, stated Joe Randell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chorus.  “Our growth trajectory generated increases in adjusted net income and adjusted EBITDA of approximately 31.2% and 18.7%, respectively, quarter over quarter.”

“Our efforts today are focused on ensuring the well-being of our employees, reducing costs and bolstering our liquidity as we prepare for the lifting of travel restrictions. At a time of great stress and uncertainty, I’m inspired by the energy, resilience, and commitment of our employees. I thank them for their dedication under these very difficult conditions.” 

“The Chorus team has overcome significant challenges in the past, and I’m confident this crisis will be no different. We have initiated several cost reduction measures, including capital expenditure reductions and deferrals, the temporary furlough of over 3,000 employees, and compensation reductions for our management, administrative employees and board of directors. We have a strong liquidity position, with combined cash and committed facilities of over $265 million2, providing liquidity to navigate through this period and emerge positively on the other side,” concluded Mr. Randell.

2 The liquidity of $265.0 million includes the US $100.0 million unsecured revolving credit facility.  US dollars have been converted using a foreign exchange rate of $1.4187, the March 31, 2020 closing day rate from the Bank of Canada.

Response to COVID-19

Cash and Liquidity Enhancements

As at March 31, 2020, Chorus had cash of $90.6 million inclusive of a $30.0 million draw from its $75.0 million committed facility with the opportunity to borrow up to a further $25.0 million on a demand basis.  As at March 31, 2020, Chorus has provided letters of credit totaling $10.1 million that reduced the amount available under this facility. 

On April 28, 2020, Chorus further strengthened its liquidity by obtaining a US$100.0 million unsecured revolving credit facility for general corporate purposes, repayable in two years.   

Chorus is in the process of raising approximately US$30.0 to US$50.0 million in financing to be secured by up to four unencumbered aircraft. These financings are currently anticipated to close in the Company’s second quarter, subject to negotiation and execution of definitive agreements and the satisfaction of conditions precedent to closing.  There can be no assurance that these conditions will be satisfied. 

Chorus also suspended all future dividend payments and the Dividend Reinvestment Plan (‘DRIP’) until further notice following the payment of the March 2020 dividend on April 17, 2020. This is estimated to save approximately $55.0 million in annual cash dividend payments, considering a DRIP participation rate of 29%.

First Quarter Summary

In the first quarter of 2020, Chorus reported adjusted EBITDA of $88.7 million; an increase of $14.0 million or 18.7% relative to the first quarter of 2019.

The Regional Aircraft Leasing segment’s adjusted EBITDA increased by $16.5 million due primarily to the growth in aircraft earning leasing revenue.

The Regional Aviation Services segment’s adjusted EBITDA decreased by $2.5 million. The first quarter results were impacted by:

  • a reduction in other revenue due to a decrease in third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul (‘MRO’) revenue and reduced contract flying; and
  • increased general administrative expenses; offset partially by
  • decreased stock-based compensation of $2.6 million due to the change in the share price inclusive of the change in fair value of the equity derivative contract known as a total return swap; and
  • increased aircraft leasing revenue under the capacity purchase agreement (‘CPA’).

Adjusted net income was $25.0 million for the quarter, an increase of $6.0 million due to:

  • the $14.0 million increase in adjusted EBITDA previously described;
  • a change in realized foreign exchange losses and unrealized foreign exchange losses on working capital of $1.5 million; and
  • a $0.9 million decrease in income tax expense resulting from a reduction in certain provincial tax rates and non-deductible expenses reduced by the increase in adjusted EBT1; partially offset by
  • an increase in depreciation of $5.9 million primarily related to additional aircraft in the Regional Aircraft Leasing segment; and
  • an increase in net interest costs of $4.5 million primarily related to additional aircraft debt in the Regional Aircraft Leasing segment.

Net income decreased $50.7 million due to the change in net unrealized foreign exchange losses on long-term debt of $55.1 million and increased employee separation program costs of $3.5 million offset by decreased signing bonuses of $2.0 million and the previously noted $6.0 million increase in adjusted net income.

Link to more

Chorus Aviation Executes Previously-Announced US$100 Million Revolving Credit Facility

From Chorus Aviation Inc

HALIFAX, April 28, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (“Chorus”) announced today that it has executed the US$100 million unsecured revolving credit facility first announced on April 6, 2020.

“In today’s challenging and uncertain environment, bolstering our liquidity is of utmost importance to position Chorus as a strong organization that is ready to resume normal operations when this pandemic abates,” said Joe Randell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chorus.

The facility is for general corporate purposes and repayable in two years. It contains customary covenants and events of default, including restrictions on share repurchases and the payment of dividends consistent with Chorus’ operating facility, a mandatory prepayment upon the occurrence of a change of control of Chorus, and event of defaults that would be triggered upon the acceleration of Chorus indebtedness in excess of US $10.0 million or any event of default under any other indebtedness owed by Chorus to the lender.

Chorus Aviation Adopts Shareholder Rights Plan

From Chorus Aviation Inc

HALIFAX, April 27, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (“Chorus“) announced today that it has entered into a shareholder rights plan (the “Rights Plan“) effective as of April 27, 2020.

The Rights Plan is designed to ensure that all Chorus shareholders are treated fairly in connection with any take-over bid and to protect against “creeping bids”, which involve the accumulation of more than 20%, on an aggregate basis, of the Chorus’ Class A Variable Voting Shares and Class B Voting Shares (collectively, the “Shares“) through purchases exempt from applicable take over-bid rules.

The Rights Plan is similar to plans recently adopted by other Canadian companies and approved by their shareholders, and has not been implemented in response to, or in anticipation of, any pending or threatened take-over bid.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of Chorus’ shares have declined significantly,” said Joe Randell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chorus. “We have taken significant steps to bolster our liquidity and remain focused on taking all actions necessary to emerge from this crisis as a strong company. We have adopted the Rights Plan to protect against those who may seek to take advantage of the current market environment to the detriment of Chorus and its shareholders.”

Pursuant to the Rights Plan, one right attaches to each issued and outstanding Share. Subject to the terms of the Rights Plan, the rights become exercisable in the event that any person (together with certain related parties) becomes a beneficial holder of 20% or more of the outstanding Shares without complying with the “Permitted Bid” provisions under the Rights Plan. In such event, holders of the rights (other than the acquiring person and its related parties) will be permitted to exercise their rights to purchase additional Shares at a 50% discount to the then prevailing market price of the Shares.

While the Rights Plan is effective as of April 27, 2020, it is subject to ratification by Chorus’ shareholders within six months of its adoption. Chorus will be seeking shareholder ratification of the Rights Plan at its upcoming annual and special meeting to be held on June 29, 2020. A summary of the principal terms of the Rights Plan will be included in the management proxy circular to be sent to shareholders in connection with such meeting and a complete copy of the Rights Plan is available under the Company’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. If the Rights Plan is not approved by the shareholders within six months of its adoption, it, together with the outstanding rights, will terminate and cease to be effective.

Jazz Aviation and Air Canada Cargo to be First to Operate Routes with Dash 8-400 Aircraft Simplified Package Freighter Developed by De Havilland Canada

From Air Canada

Jazz Aviation and Air Canada Cargo to be First to Operate Routes with Dash 8-400 Aircraft Simplified Package Freighter Developed by De Havilland Canada

  • Re-configured aircraft can carry a total of 18,000 lbs [8,165 kg] cargo in cabin and belly
  • Enables transport of critical supplies to regional Canadian communities

HALIFAX and MONTREAL, April 24, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (“Chorus”) and its subsidiary Jazz Aviation LP (“Jazz”) announced today that Jazz and Air Canada, through its freight division Air Canada Cargo, will begin operating the recently approved Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter developed by De Havilland Canada to short and medium haul markets under the Air Canada Express banner. These reconfigured aircraft will carry a total of 18,000 lbs [8,165 kg] of cargo in the passenger cabin and belly.

“De Havilland Canada’s Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter will allow us to redeploy aircraft, while contributing to the collective fight against COVID-19 by supporting our customer, Air Canada, in the delivery of essential cargo,” said Randolph deGooyer, President, Jazz Aviation LP.  

“This aircraft will allow us to provide critical cargo lift on short and medium-haul routes that have been impacted by the reduction of passenger flights,” said Tim Strauss, Vice-President Air Canada Cargo. “The converted cabin, which can accommodate a cargo volume of 1,150 cubic feet is perfectly suited to loose load cargo like medical supplies, PPE and other goods needed to support the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

Under an agreement with De Havilland Canada, Jazz has ordered a Service Bulletin and conversion kit that will be applied to the first of 13 select Dash 8-400 aircraft. De Havilland Canada will be the exclusive supplier of all future Dash 8-400 aircraft Simplified Package Freighter modifications for Jazz’s fleet. 

To facilitate the cargo-only flights, Air Canada Cargo has created five, segment-specific sales teams to focus on the unique needs of customers at different levels in the supply chain. Enquiries from shippers interested in Air Canada Cargo’s services may be sent to a special freighter email address that is monitored 24 hours per day: AC.freighter@aircanada.ca.

About Chorus Aviation and Jazz Aviation
Chorus is a global provider of integrated regional aviation solutions. Chorus’ vision is to deliver regional aviation to the world. Headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Chorus is comprised of Chorus Aviation Capital a leading, global lessor of regional aircraft, and Jazz Aviation and Voyageur Aviation – companies that have long histories of safe operations with excellent customer service. Chorus provides a full suite of regional aviation support services that encompasses every stage of an aircraft’s lifecycle, including aircraft acquisitions and leasing; aircraft refurbishment, engineering, modification, repurposing and preparation; contract flying; aircraft and component maintenance, disassembly, and parts provisioning.

Jazz Aviation LP has a strong history in Canadian aviation with its roots going back to the 1930s. As the largest regional carrier in Canada, Jazz has a proven track record of industry leadership and exceptional customer service and has leveraged that strength to deliver value to all its stakeholders. Jazz, under the Air Canada Express brand, operates more flights and flies to more Canadian destinations than any other airline, and has a workforce of approximately 5,000 professionals, highly experienced in the challenging and complex nature of regional operations.

About Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline. 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.

Through its cargo division, Air Canada has been using mainline aircraft that would otherwise be parked to operate cargo-only flights. The aircraft on these flights carry no passengers but move in their baggage holds time-sensitive shipments, including urgent medical supplies, and goods to support the global economy. Air Canada has reconfigured the passenger cabins of three Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to give them additional cargo capacity, doubling the cargo capacity of those aircraft.

Air Canada Cargo, the freight division of Air Canada, provides cargo service to over 450 cities worldwide, with self-handled hubs in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Chicago, London and Frankfurt that allow for rapid shipment of goods.

Chorus Aviation Announces Jazz’s Intention to Adopt the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

From Chorus Aviation Inc

HALIFAX, April 9, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (“Chorus”) is announcing the intention of its subsidiary, Jazz Aviation LP (“Jazz”), to adopt the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (‘CEWS’). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Air Canada Express flying operations undertaken by Jazz have been reduced by approximately 90% until at least the end of May, and Jazz expects to incur significant revenue losses for the last half of March and the second fiscal quarter. Any near-term recovery in Jazz’s flight operations depends exclusively on the lifting of domestic and trans-border travel restrictions and protocols.

As of March 15, 2020, Jazz’s active workforce in Canada consisted of approximately 5,000 employees. On April 6, 2020, Chorus announced significant measures to reduce costs and bolster its liquidity. This included the difficult decision to reduce Jazz’s workforce by approximately 60%, or 3,000 employees. Subject to the adoption of the CEWS into law, Jazz intends to adopt the CEWS to assist its employees.

“Our employees are amongst the best in the business and play an integral role in supporting Air Canada’s domestic and trans-border operations. I’m particularly pleased that our unionized labour groups support this initiative as we are hopeful the CEWS will provide much needed support to our employees through this difficult period,” stated Randolph deGooyer, President of Jazz.  

“I applaud the members of our federal government for tabling this important subsidy to help employers and their employees manage through this very uncertain time,” stated Joe Randell, President and CEO, Chorus. “Every measure must be taken to preserve our strength and resources in order to successfully emerge from this crisis when it abates.” 

All areas of the organization are under review with the objective of reducing costs to ensure a strong company that is ready to resume normal operations as soon as possible.

For further information regarding the Capacity Purchase Agreement (‘CPA’) under which Jazz performs flight operations for Air Canada, please refer to Chorus’ Annual Information Form dated February 12, 2020.

Globe and Mail: List of Canadian Carriers Job Lost

8 April 2020, from The Globe and Mail – link to story

Here is a list of the carriers and the job losses announced since late March:

  • Air Canada – link to announcement on re-hire
  • Flair Airlines laid half its 650 employees.
  • Porter Airlines let go most of its 1,500 employees.
  • Sunwing Airlines laid off most of its 1,500 employees.
  • Transat AT let go 3,600 of its 5,000 employees.
  • WestJet Airlines laid off 6,900 of 14,000 workers.
  • Chorus Aviation’s job losses total 3,000.

Chorus Aviation Announces Significant Measures in Response to COVID-19, including Dividend Suspension and New US$100 Million Credit Facility

Provided by Chorus Aviation Inc/CNW

HALIFAX, April 6, 2020 /CNW/ – Chorus Aviation Inc. (‘Chorus’ or the ‘Company’) provides the following update on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on its business and its initiatives to preserve liquidity.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to worldwide economic uncertainty with companies around the globe taking painful steps to manage through this unprecedented, ever changing event. For the aviation industry, it has led to strict travel restrictions and global cancellations impacting all airlines around the world. The International Air Transport Association is currently estimating a US$252 billion year-on-year loss in passenger revenue worldwide. Even if the Company’s business model does not directly expose it to the market risks ordinarily faced by airlines, substantially all its source revenue is derived from airline customers, through its Capacity Purchase Agreement (‘CPA’) with Air Canada and its leasing of aircraft to airline customers globally. The full extent of the duration and therefore impact of this pandemic are unknown.

Joe Randell, President and CEO, stated, “Our industry is facing its worst crisis in history.  The world situation is unstable and there are no signs of a near-term recovery. We entered this predicament from our strongest position ever, and it’s devastating to be sending approximately 3,000 employees home, given the successes we’ve achieved together. Our employees are amongst the most talented in the industry, and I’m deeply troubled by the uncertainty and anxiety this is causing our employees and their families. The rapid and dramatic impact of this pandemic is astounding, and we’re taking all measures to ensure the safety of our employees, mitigate costs, bolster our liquidity and strengthen our relationships with customers. We’re prudently and responsibly managing our financial resources to secure our future and eliminating all discretionary cash outflows thus requiring a suspension of our dividend. These are very difficult decisions, impacting all of our stakeholders, but necessary to ensure we’re ready to emerge from this worldwide crisis as resiliently and quickly as possible.”

Further information regarding the suspension of the Company’s dividend is provided below.

Operations Impact

Chorus is working with its main customer and partner, Air Canada, which has implemented a second quarter network-wide capacity reduction of approximately 85%-90%.  Chorus’ Air Canada Express flying has been reduced by approximately 90% for April and May, resulting in significant temporary employee reductions.  Chorus is reviewing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program and is awaiting further details to assess any impact to these planned reductions.

With the shutdown of its production line, Bombardier has notified Chorus of a temporary delay in the production of its order of nine Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft that were originally scheduled for delivery in 2020.  As such, Chorus expects a corresponding delay in anticipated leasing revenue under the CPA for these aircraft. No timeline has been provided for the future delivery of the aircraft. The deposits on these aircraft were previously paid, and the Company has a financing commitment for them.

In accordance with the CPA, the fixed fee does not vary with the amount of flying and is fixed based on agreed annual amounts.

As with many leasing companies, Chorus has received requests from substantially all of its Regional Aircraft Leasing segment customers for some form of temporary rent relief.  The period of relief most commonly spans three months, and where monthly rentals are deferred in full or in part, the customer provides a commitment to repay the amounts deferred following the end of the agreed deferral period. While we expect the industry, and especially the regional aviation sector, to recover in time, these deferrals will increase Chorus’ trade receivable balance in the near term. Consistent with market norms, our leases are generally for a fixed term, contain an absolute payment obligation on the part of the lessee, and cannot be terminated early for convenience. Chorus also had pending transactions involving the delivery of three ATR 72-600 aircraft and three Airbus A220-300 aircraft in 2020.  Chorus expects all these deliveries will be deferred.

The Company’s Voyageur subsidiary, which represents less than 10% of Chorus’ consolidated revenue and net income, is engaged in specialty contract flying, primarily for international organizations engaged in humanitarian missions, and specialty maintenance, repair, overhaul (‘MRO’) and parts sales. Voyageur is experiencing continued demand overseas to support humanitarian efforts, contracted flying for cargo services, and there has been no interruption to the air ambulance operation in New Brunswick. Voyageur’s MRO operation continues in servicing essential aviation customer requirements.

Initiatives to Preserve Liquidity

Given the uncertainty related to the duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chorus is suspending its dividend following payment of the previously declared dividend payable on April 17, 2020 to shareholders of record on March 31, 2020 (the ‘March 2020 Dividend’). After payment of the March 2020 Dividend, no further dividends will be paid until further notice and the dividend reinvestment program (‘DRIP’) will also be suspended. Based on current shares outstanding, the company’s $0.48 cent dividend results in approximately C$77 million in annual dividends declared and based on a 29% DRIP participation rate, approximately C$55 million in annual dividends paid in cash. The suspension of the dividend will preserve significant cash to strengthen the Company’s balance sheet through this crisis.

In addition, Chorus has executed a letter of offer with Export Development Canada to provide an unsecured US$100 million revolving credit facility to be used for general corporate purposes, which further bolsters Chorus’ liquidity position. The facility will be unsecured, repayable in two years, and contain customary covenants and events of default, including an event of default that would be triggered upon a change in control of Chorus. The facility offered under this letter of offer remains subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions precedent to closing, including the negotiation and execution of a definitive loan agreement and the consent of the lenders under Chorus’ operating line of credit. There can be no assurance that these conditions will be satisfied.

As reported previously, the Company has an existing C$100 million revolving operating facility, of which C$75 million is committed and C$25 million is uncommitted. This facility can be used to fund working capital at the Company and its Jazz and Voyageur subsidiaries. The Company currently has a drawn balance (including letters of credit) of approximately C$40 million. 

The Company is also in the process of raising approximately US$30 to US$50 million in financing to be secured by up to four unencumbered aircraft.  These financings were first mentioned in Chorus’ news release dated March 18, 2020, and the range of anticipated proceeds has widened as the Company explores approaches to refinancing these unencumbered aircraft that could yield to lower proceeds but provide increased flexibility under certain existing loan agreements. These financings are currently anticipated to close in the Company’s second fiscal quarter, subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive agreements and the satisfaction of conditions precedent to closing. There can be no assurance that these conditions will be satisfied.

In addition to the temporary layoffs noted earlier, Joe Randell, President and CEO will forgo 70% of his salary, and members of the executive team will forgo up to 50% of their salary. Further the Board of Directors has taken a 25% reduction in fees.

All areas of the Company are under review with the objective of reducing costs to ensure a strong organization that is ready to resume normal operations as soon as this pandemic abates. 

The duration and impact of this crisis are unknown.  With these measures, the Company anticipates having sufficient liquidity to fund ongoing operations, planned capital expenditures, and principal and interest payments related to long-term borrowings.