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Air Canada celebrates Montreal-Shanghai launch & record results in 2016

MONTREAL — Air Canada’s daily service from Montreal to Shanghai is officially up and running, with the first flight having left yesterday from Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

The year-long service marks the airline’s first direct route to Asia from Montreal, which offers convenient one-stop access points throughout Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the United States. It also marks the airline’s first route from Montreal to be operated with its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft and cabin features.

“With the launch of Montreal-Shanghai nonstop service, we are delighted to inaugurate Air Canada’s first direct flights between Montreal and Asia, building on Air Canada’s success in the rapidly growing Chinese market,” said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada. “With an average elapsed time of over 13.5 hours, it is the longest flight every operated by any carrier from Montréal-Trudeau airport.”

In Montreal, flights are timed to optimize connections to and from the carrier’s extensive Eastern Canada and U.S. networks including Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax, New York and Boston.

A day after the route launch, Air Canada released its 2016 annual results, indicating that 2016 was a record full year of $2.768 billion, compared to the previous record of $2.542 billion in 2015. This represents an increase of $226 million, or 8.9%, and surpasses the 6 to 8% increase projected in previous reports. On a GAAP basis, the airline reported operating income of $1.345 billion in 2016 versus $1.496 billion in 2015.

In addition, Air Canada generated adjusted net income of $1.147 billion, or $4.06 per diluted share compared to adjusted net income of $1.222 billion or $4.18 per diluted share in 2015. It reported net income of $876 million or $3.10 per diluted share in 2016, compared to net income of $308 million or $1.03 per diluted share in 2015.

“In 2016, we achieved outstanding results, surpassing the previous records for EBITDAR (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and aircraft rent), as well as for passenger and operating revenues, underscoring the effectiveness of our business strategy and improved competitive position,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Traffic for the year grew by more than 13% with increases in all five geographic markets, and we reached a new record of serving close to 45 million customers on our expanding global network, with the launch of 28 new routes including 15 new international and 12 U.S. transborder routes.”

Rovinescu also noted that growth in 2016 led to the creation of 1,500 new jobs in Canada between Air Canada’s mainline, Rouge and Express services.

Looking ahead to 2017, he said: “We expect to achieve an EBITDAR margin of between 15 to 18%, with our current forecast of rising fuel prices and our return on invested capital is projected to be between 9 and 12%. Moreover, we forecast positive free cash flow in 2017 in the range of $200 million to $500 million.”

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