A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Travellers are hopping back on regional flights, which bodes well for Chorus: CEO

Travellers are hopping back on regional flights, which bodes well for Chorus: CEO

Chorus Aviation Inc. is riding a fledgling recovery in the airline business driven by the return of traffic in Canada and abroad.

The company, which leases planes across the globe and provides regional service for Air Canada, says its fleet saw far greater use on both those fronts last quarter, with a further uptick on the near horizon.

Chief executive Joe Randell says its Jazz Aviation subsidiary carried more than doublethe number of passengers on its Air Canada routes in the third quarter than it did in the first half of the year.

“Change is in the air and our industry has arrived at an important inflection point,” he told investors on a conference call Thursday.

“The regional aviation sector is leading the recovery of domestic air transportation in many parts of the world.”

Randell said he expects flying activity to reach about 75 to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter. A return to full operations by late in the second quarter “could be very achievable.”

“This last quarter is when we’ve really seen it start to pick up. And that’s why we have this optimism, and we’re seeing the request for proposals out there now from carriers,” Randell said.

“But again, it depends. It depends on the demand on the Air Canada front. It depends on the border,” he added, noting “fits and starts” on regional routes in Europe as well.

Lease rates for Chorus planes also remain slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels, said chief financial officer Gary Osborne.

Chorus reported Wednesday evening a net loss of $14.1 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30 or eight cents per share compared with a profit of $20.5 million or 13 cents per in the same period last year.

Operating revenue hit $274.4 million in the quarter compared with $196.6 million a year earlier.

Adjusted net income rose to $15.3 million or nine cents per share, up from $10.9 million or seven cents per share from the third quarter of 2020.

Analysts had expected $14.95 million in adjusted profits or nine cents per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CHR, TSX:AC)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press