Thursday, February 29, 2024

Ottawa to make $177 million over 10 years to help Air Canada, says PBO

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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(Ottawa) The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the federal government could earn about $177 million over ten years from a financial support agreement with Air Canada.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) estimate is based on the fact that the airline is using only part of the $5.9 billion aid package agreed with the government in April.

The subsidy program called for the federal government to acquire a 6% stake in the company, for $500 million. But the deal also provided for a $1.5 billion secured credit facility and a series of $2.475 billion unsecured credit facility. Finally, the program introduced another $1.404 billion unsecured credit facility specifically designed to compensate travelers affected by COVID-19.

PBO estimates are based on the fact that Air Canada is using approximately $1.2 billion of its $1.404 billion unsecured credit facility to compensate travelers, but will not use other available credit facilities.

Air Canada previously said it would keep this credit facility as an insurance policy, while it moved forward with other refinancing options. The airline also announced Wednesday that it has completed a $7.1 billion refinancing.

Under the agreement, Ottawa has asked Air Canada to compensate passengers whose flights have been canceled due to COVID-19. Further restrictions will be imposed if the airline has to access other credit facilities.

“We estimate that over a 10-year period, the Government of Canada will earn approximately $177 million of the total $5,879 million it provided to Air Canada under the Financial Support Agreement signed on April 12,” concludes Yves Gero, Parliamentary Budget Officer.

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