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Oct 7, 2021

Air Canada CEO not planning to tap into public markets

Air Canada CEO 'comfortable' with balance sheet and liquidity, company continuing to invest

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Air Canada investors shouldn’t be concerned about the airline heading back to the public markets to raise cash any time soon, according to Chief Executive Officer Michael Rousseau.

In an interview, he said the company is not currently planning to make use of a credit facility provided by the federal government.

“Our intention is not to draw upon that revolver of $4 billion,” he said. “We really positioned it as a level of insurance in case the pandemic had gone a different way. We want that in our back pocket, so to speak, as a third, fourth layer of insurance.”

Air Canada made waves earlier this year when it struck a nearly $6-billion rescue package with the federal government. That included various loans, the issuance of $500 million in shares and a promise to issue customer refunds.

The airline is still in recovery mode as passenger levels remain below pre-COVID levels, but Rousseau says he felt “very comfortable” with the company’s liquidity levels after the bailout package and a number of equity and debt financings.

“Luckily, we had one of the strongest balances in the industry when the pandemic hit early last year. We had over $7 billion in liquidity on our balance sheet,” he said. “We’ve always run a fairly conservative, financially-managed company and we felt it was best to negotiate something with the Canadian government.

“We’ll continue to finance new planes with debt, but for general corporate purposes, right now, we don’t see a need to tap into the markets.”