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Press release from CNW Group

CHORUS AVIATION INC. ANNOUNCES STRONG FIRST QUARTER 2011 FINANCIAL RESULTS

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CHORUS AVIATION INC. ANNOUNCES STRONG FIRST QUARTER 2011 FINANCIAL RESULTS 16:32 EDT Tuesday, May 31, 2011 << Net income per share of $0.12 Continued profitability since 2006 >>HALIFAX, May 31 /CNW/ - Chorus Aviation Inc. ("Chorus") (TSX: CHR.B CHR.A CHR.DB) today announced its first quarter 2011 earnings with a net income of $14.7 million and net income per share of $0.12. << Q1 2011 HIGHLIGHTS ------------------ - Operating revenue of $443.0 million, up 24.7% - Operating income of $21.6 million, up 36.2% - Free Cash Flow(1) of $25.4 million, up 35.1% - Net income of $14.7 million - Net income per share of $0.12 >>"We continue to build our reputation for consistently delivering strong quarterly results, and once again I'm pleased with our performance in the first quarter of this year. Our team continues to deliver amongst the strongest quarterly results in the North American airline industry, and has done so since 2006," said Joseph Randell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chorus. "We believe that our overall strategy and continued focus on cost management will serve us well and contribute to our long-term success. Earlier this month we took delivery of our first Q400 NextGen aircraft. I'm confident this milestone will create more value for our stakeholders as a result of its enviable fuel burn efficiency and operating economics." << Financial Performance - First Quarter 2011 Compared to First Quarter 2010 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- >>Operating revenue increased from $355.4 million to $443.0 million, representing an increase of $87.6 million or 24.7%. The increase in operating revenue was primarily due to a $63.5 million or 50.1% increase in pass-through costs from $126.8 million to $190.3 million, which included $45.1 million related to fuel. Passenger revenue, excluding pass-through costs, increased by $23.7 million or 10.5% primarily due to a 16.2% increase in Billable Block Hours, a 6.3% increase in departures, and new revenue earned under the Thomas Cook arrangement that became effective November 2010; offset by a lower US dollar exchange rate, and a $2.4 million reduction in incentives earned under the Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA).Total operating expenses increased from $339.5 million to $421.4 million, an increase of $81.9 million or 24.1%. Controllable costs increased by $18.4 million or 8.6%, primarily attributable to the operation of flights on behalf of Thomas Cook.Salaries, wages and benefits increased by $12.3 million due to wage and scale increases under new collective agreements, increased pension expense resulting from a revised actuarial valuation, and increased number of full time equivalent employees required to allow for capacity growth; offset by decreased incentive compensation expense.Non-operating expenses amounted to $2.2 million, representing an increase of $2.6 million. This change was mainly attributable to the absence in this quarter of any gain on derivative liabilities; offset by lower net interest expense.EBITDA(1) was $31.3 million compared to $26.9 million in 2010, an increase of $4.4 million or 16.4%. Free Cash Flow was $25.4 million, up $6.6 million or 35.1% from $18.8 million.Net income of $14.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2011, a $1.7 million decrease over first quarter 2010.Update on CPA Swing AircraftToday, Jazz Aviation LP ("Jazz") was advised by Air Canada that due to the high cost of fuel it will not exercise the option to operate swing CRJ100 aircraft specified in the 2009 amended CPA. The swing aircraft were only to be deployed at Air Canada's discretion. This development will not have a material impact on Jazz's business. It does not reduce the minimum guaranteed number of covered aircraft, and will not result in any changes in manpower or annual block hour guidance as the swing aircraft were not contemplated in our current operating plan.Chorus Aviation Inc.'s unaudited interim financial statements for the period ended March 31, 2011, and accompanying Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) are available at www.chorusaviation.ca and at www.sedar.com. A copy may also be obtained on request by contacting Investor Relations at: investorsinfo@chorusaviation.ca or (902) 873-5094. << Investor Conference Call / Audio Webcast ---------------------------------------- >>Chorus will hold an analyst call at 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 to discuss the first quarter results. The call may be accessed by dialing 1-888-231-8191. The call will be simultaneously audio webcast via: http://www.newswire.ca/en/webcast/viewEvent.cgi?eventID=3483920 or in the Investor Relations section at www.chorusaviation.ca . This is a listen-in only audio webcast. Media Player or Real Player is required to listen to the broadcast; please download well in advance of the call.The conference call webcast will be archived on Chorus's Investor Relations website at www.chorusaviaton ca. A playback of the call can also be accessed until midnight ET, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, by dialing (416) 849-0833 or toll-free 1- 800-642-1687, and passcode 59879305# (pound key).(1) Non-GAPP Financial MeasuresEBITDAEBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and obsolescence) is a non-GAAP financial measure commonly used throughout all industries to view operating results before interest expense, interest income, depreciation and amortization, gains and losses on property and equipment and other non-operating income and expenses. Management believes EBITDA assists investors in comparing Chorus' performance on a consistent basis without regard to depreciation and amortization, which are non-cash in nature and can vary significantly depending on accounting methods and non-operating factors such as historical cost. EBITDA should not be used as an exclusive measure of cash flow because it does not account for the impact on working capital growth, capital expenditures, debt repayments and other sources and uses of cash, which are disclosed in the statement of cash flows which form part of the financial statements.FREE CASH FLOWPre-conversion distributable cash was a key performance indicator as it represented the funds available to unitholders of an income fund and was used by management to evaluate the ongoing performance of Jazz Air Income Fund. Distributable cash is not a measure which is commonly utilized in respect of a public corporation. Management believes, however, that it is a term with which its equity holders are familiar and has provided Free Cash Flow as a proxy for previously reported distributable income. Free Cash Flow is calculated in the same manner as distributable cash.Caution regarding forward-looking informationThis news release should be read in conjunction with Chorus' unaudited consolidated financial statements for the period ended March 31, 2011 and MD&A dated May 31, 2011, filed with Canadian Securities regulatory authorities (available at www.sedar.com).Certain statements in this news release may contain statements which are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are identified by the use of terms and phrases such as "anticipate", "believe", "could", "estimate", "expect", "intend", "may", "plan", "predict", "project", "will", "would", and similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions. Such statements may involve but are not limited to comments with respect to strategies, expectations, planned operations or future actions.Forward-looking statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable and other uncertain events. Forward-looking statements, by their nature, are based on assumptions, including those described below, and are subject to important risks and uncertainties. Any forecasts or forward-looking predictions or statements cannot be relied upon due to, amongst other things, changing external events and general uncertainties of the business. Such statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Results indicated in forward-looking statements may differ materially from actual results for a number of reasons, including without limitation, risks relating to Jazz's relationship with Air Canada or Thomas Cook Canada Inc., risks relating to the airline industry, energy prices, general industry, market, credit, and economic conditions, competition, insurance issues and costs, supply issues, war, terrorist attacks, epidemic diseases, acts of God, changes in demand due to the seasonal nature of the business, the ability to reduce operating costs and employee counts, secure financing, employee relations, labour negotiations or disputes, restructuring, pension issues, currency exchange and interest rates, leverage and restructure covenants in future indebtedness, dilution of Chorus Shareholders, uncertainty of dividend payments, managing growth, changes in laws, adverse regulatory developments or proceedings, pending and future litigation and actions by third parties. The forward-looking statements contained in this discussion represent Chorus' expectations as of May 31, 2011, and are subject to change after such date. However, Chorus disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable securities regulations. << About Chorus Aviation Inc. -------------------------- >>Chorus Aviation Inc. ("Chorus") was incorporated on September 27, 2010 and is a dividend-paying holding company which owns Jazz Aviation LP, Chorus Leasing I Inc. (which owns the Q400 aircraft ) and 7503695 Canada Inc. (which holds Chorus' investment in Latin American Regional Aviation Holdings Corp., which in turn holds a 75% indirect equity interest in South American regional carrier, Pluna).Chorus is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbols of CHR.A, CHR.B and CHR.DB. << About Jazz Aviation LP ---------------------- >>Jazz Aviation LP has a strong history in Canadian aviation with its roots going back to the 1930s. Jazz is wholly owned by Chorus Aviation Inc. (TSX: CHR.B, CHR.A, CHR.DB) and continues to generate some of the strongest operational and financial results in the North American aviation industry.There are three airline divisions operated by Jazz Aviation LP: Air Canada Express, Thomas Cook Canada and Jazz.Air Canada Express: Under a capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada, Jazz provides service to and from lower-density markets as well as higher-density markets at off-peak times throughout Canada and to and from certain destinations in the United States. Jazz currently operates scheduled passenger service on behalf of Air Canada with over 800 departures per weekday to 84 destinations in Canada and in the United States with a fleet of Canadian-made Bombardier aircraft.Thomas Cook Canada: Jazz operates Boeing 757-200 aircraft on behalf of Thomas Cook Canada in the winter season to various destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America from four Canadian gateways - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.Jazz: Under the Jazz brand, the airline offers charters throughout North America with a dedicated fleet of five Bombardier aircraft for corporate clients, governments, special interest groups and individuals seeking more convenience. Jazz also has the ability to offer airline operators services such as ground handling, dispatching, flight load planning, training and consulting.For more information, visit www.flyjazz.ca.For further information: Manon Stuart, (902) 873-5054 Halifax, manon.stuart@flyjazz.ca; Debra Williams, (519) 457-8071, London debra.williams@flyjazz.ca; www.chorusaviation.ca