Air Canada today reported third quarter 2019 EBITDA(1) (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and impairment) of $1.472 billion compared to third quarter 2018 EBITDA of $1.351 billion, an increase of $121million or 9 per cent. The airline reported third quarter 2019 operating income of $956 millioncompared to third quarter 2018 operating income of $923 million
“I am pleased to report an excellent third quarter for Air Canada, in which we generated record operating revenues of close to $5.6 billion and reached record liquidity of nearly $7.4 billion. Impressive as such strong results are on their own, they are even more meaningful given that we achieved them despite the serious disruption to our operations and to our cost structure created by the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. Our record performance is a testament to the resourcefulness, skill and dedication of the entire Air Canada team, and I applaud and thank them for their hard work taking care of our customers since the Boeing 737 MAX grounding occurred,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada.
“During the quarter, our airline delivered on key metrics. This included EBITDA of $1.472 billion, an increase of 9 per cent from the previous year, higher operating income, and improved yields. Our leverage ratio(1) was 0.8 at the quarter’s end, a decrease of 50 per cent from December 31, 2018. The significant progress we have made on our balance sheet was recognized in the third quarter and, earlier this year, by upgrades from major debt rating agencies, advancing us to one level below our goal of investment grade status.
“Through great effort and teamwork, we have successfully managed through the extremely challenging 737 MAX grounding for nearly eight months now, most recently adjusting our schedule to remove the aircraft until February 14, 2020 and wet leasing two Airbus A330 aircraft to ensure we have sufficient capacity this winter. However, the removal of a scheduled 36 737 MAX aircraft during our peak summer season exacted a toll from a financial, route, product, and human resources perspective and the grounding is preventing us from realizing our full potential,” said Mr. Rovinescu.
In the third quarter of 2019, operating expenses of $4.597 billion increased $105 million or 2 per cent from the third quarter of 2018. Air Canada’s cost per available seat mile (CASM) increased 4.5 per cent from the third quarter of 2018. The airline’s adjusted CASM(1) increased 9.3 per cent over the same quarter in 2018. These increases reflected, in large part, the impact of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft grounding which resulted in a system ASM decline of 2.1 per cent versus planned system ASM growth of approximately 3 per cent, in addition to creating higher costs associated with replacement aircraft, and on-going operating expenses, including depreciation and pilot wages, that continued to be incurred in relation to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft despite their grounding. Given that the Aeroplan loyalty business was not consolidated in Air Canada’s financial results in 2018, for a more meaningful comparison of the cost performance of the on-going airline business, Air Canada’s adjusted CASM for the third quarter and first nine months of 2019 excludes the operating expenses of Aeroplan.