Air Canada has issued the following comments respecting statements made by Kevin Benson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Airlines at a press conference held in Calgary today:
Air Canada is firmly committed to restructuring and bringing Canadian Airlines to sustainable profitability. We believe there is valuable consumer equity in the Canadian Airlines brand. Air Canada and Canadian Airlines will be operated by separate management teams. Among the many benefits to consumers will be continued access to the nine major airlines of Star Alliance, the world`s largest network, while competition will be expected to grow from other domestic, charter, transborder and international airlines. Our proposal to start up a low-fare carrier in Central and Eastern Canada provides added consumer choice in the marketplace.
Our commitment to operate Canadian Airlines as a viable, separate airline for the long-term is by far the best solution for employees of both airlines. No merger means no forced layoffs and job security for the long term in two healthy, viable, profitable companies.
Air Canada has put together a financing package that adds significantly to its liquidity that requires virtually no additional leverage. Contrary to statements made by Mr. Benson on the subject, the transactions concluded by Air Canada with United Airlines (UAL), Lufthansa and CIBC provide immediate liquidity and value that Air Canada is distributing to its shareholders in the form of an $800 million share buyback. The $800 million to be used for the share buy back represents value and liquidity given by our partners, United Airlines, Lufthansa and CIBC, to continue their relationship with Air Canada. The partners` contributions will not diminish the future amount or quality of Air Canada`s earnings, nor deteriorate Air Canada`s balance sheet.
Air Canada looks forward to the opportunity of having shareholders of both companies vote on the merit of its proposal to enhance their shareholder value and restructure the Canadian airline industry.