Canadian Helicopters reports second quarter results

    MONTREAL, Aug. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian Helicopters Income Fund (TSX:
CHL.UN) ("the Fund"), the largest helicopter transportation services company
operating in Canada, today announced its financial and operating results for
the second quarter ended June 30, 2009.
    Revenue reached $41.4 million, a decline of 0.5%, or $0.2 million, over
revenue of $41.6 million during the second quarter a year ago. Visual Flight
Rules (VFR) revenue decreased by $0.6 million, attributable to a 44.5% decline
in light aircraft operations due to the weakness of the resources market
partially offset by higher revenues on medium category aircraft. Instrument
Flight Rules (IFR) revenue increased by 3.1% primarily due to favourable
changes in revenue mix and the U.S. dollar exchange rate. Revenue-flying hours
declined 26.7% to 15,429 hours, reflecting the substantial decline in
resource-based activity throughout Canada.
    EBITDA was $10.3 million compared with $9.1 million for the prior year.
Operating expenses decreased 4.0% to $31.2 million due in large part to lower
crew costs which were partially offset by higher maintenance and selling,
general and administrative expenses. Net earnings before non-controlling
interest reached $8.1 million, or $0.62 per unit, compared with $6.7 million,
or $0.50 per unit, in the second quarter of 2008.
    Cash flows related to operating activities before net changes in non-cash
working capital balances were $9.0 million compared with $9.4 million from the
corresponding period a year earlier. The modest decline was attributable to
current income tax expenses related primarily to the taxable gain incurred
with the disposal of assets to Ornge on March 31, 2009. The Fund generated
distributable cash of $12.3 million, or $0.94 per unit, compared with $11.5
million, or $0.87 per unit, last year.

    Financial Highlights           Quarters ended         Six months ended
    (in thousands of dollars,         June 30,                 June 30,
    except per unit data)        2009         2008         2009         2008
    Revenue                    41,389       41,582       67,869       66,581
    EBITDA(1)                  10,291        9,140        7,802        6,783
    Net earnings before
     interest                   8,142        6,673        7,637        5,246
      Per unit - basic
       and diluted ($)           0.62         0.50         0.58         0.40
    Distributable cash         12,265       11,490       10,196        7,943
      Per unit - basic
       and diluted ($)           0.94         0.87         0.78         0.60
     units outstanding
     (including Class B)  13,098,7000  13,280,0000  13,098,7000  13,280,0000
    (1) Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and
        amortization, gain or loss on disposal of property, plant and
        equipment and non-controlling interest

    The Fund ended the second quarter of 2009 in a strong financial position
with cash and cash equivalents of $9.1 million and was free of long-term debt
after repaying $12.5 million during the quarter. As a result, the Fund had
$15.0 million and $40.0 million available under its operating and term credit
facilities, respectively, as at June 30, 2009. Combined cash and credit
facilities were $64.1 million at the end of the quarter.
    "The second quarter was positively affected by our U.S. Department of
Defense contract in Afghanistan, on which we rapidly attained full operational
capability," said Jean-Pierre Blais, President of Canadian Helicopters Income
Fund. "While the resources sector continues to pose a challenge, our strong
balance sheet enables Canadian Helicopters to aggressively pursue
diversification initiatives, both domestically and abroad."


    Canadian Helicopters' revenue stood at $67.9 million, an increase of
2.0%, or $1.3 million, over revenue of $66.6 million in the first six months
of 2008. VFR revenue increased by $0.5 million with the contract in
Afghanistan helping offset reduced domestic business. IFR revenue increased
5.3% driven by favourable changes in revenue mix and the U.S. dollar exchange
rate. Revenue flying hours were down 21.4% to 24,850 hours, mainly reflecting
reduced resource-based activity and fewer hours flown on light aircraft
throughout Canada.
    EBITDA reached $7.8 million compared with $6.8 million last year, while
net earnings before non-controlling interest amounted to $7.6 million, or
$0.58 per unit, versus $5.3 million, or $0.40 per unit, a year earlier. Cash
flows from operating activities before net changes in non-cash working capital
balances amounted to $7.7 million compared with $8.1 million in the first six
months of 2008 due primarily to current income tax expense recorded on the
disposal of assets to Ornge. Distributable cash of $10.2 million for the first
six months of 2008 was up from $7.9 million a year ago.


    "Although a large proportion of our services are essential in nature, and
therefore less subject to volatility in the economy, reduced demand from the
natural resources sector has, for the moment, moderated the pace of aircraft
bookings for the remainder of 2009 and especially in our third quarter,
typically our strongest quarter. Our North Warning System contracts with the
U.S. Air Force were extended to September 30, 2009 earlier this year, and it
is a priority for Canadian Helicopters to continue this longstanding
relationship," concluded Mr. Blais.


    Canadian Helicopters will hold a conference call to discuss these results
on Friday, August 14, 2009 at 11:00 AM (EDT). Interested parties can join the
call by dialing 416-644-3430 (local) or 1-800-588-4490 (toll free). If you are
unable to call at this time, you may access a tape recording of the meeting by
calling 416-640-1917 (local) or 1-877-289-8525 (toll free) followed by access
code 21312621 followed by #. This tape recording will be available until
Friday, August 21, 2009.


    Through Canadian Helicopters Limited, Canadian Helicopters Income Fund is
the largest helicopter transportation services company operating in Canada and
one of the largest in the world based on the size of its fleet. From over 40
base locations across Canada, Canadian Helicopters provides helicopter
services to a broad range of sectors, including emergency medical services,
infrastructure maintenance, military support, utilities, oil and gas,
forestry, mining and construction. In addition to helicopter transportation
services, Canadian Helicopters operates three flight schools and provides
third party repair and maintenance services. With over 60 years of experience,
Canadian Helicopters is an industry leader in establishing safety standards
and operating procedures.


    This press release contains forward-looking statements relating to the
future performance of the Fund. Forward-looking statements, specifically those
concerning future performance, are subject to certain risks and uncertainties,
and actual results may differ materially. Consequently, readers should not
place any undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. In addition,
these forward-looking statements relate to the date on which they were made.
The Fund disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any
forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future
events or otherwise unless being required by applicable laws.


    References to "EBITDA" are to earnings (loss) before interest, income
taxes, depreciation and amortization, gain or loss on disposal of property,
plant and equipment and non-controlling interest, as disclosed in the Summary
of Selected Consolidated Financial Information.
    Standardized Distributable Cash is a non-GAAP measure recommended by the
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants ("CICA") in order to provide a
consistent and comparable measurement of distributable cash across entities.
Standardized Distributable Cash represents cash flows from operating
activities, less adjustments for net maintenance capital expenditures as
reported in accordance with GAAP.
    Management views Distributable Cash as an operating performance measure,
as it is a measure generally used by Canadian income funds as an indicator of
financial performance. Distributable Cash is defined as Standardized
Distributable Cash plus the net change in non-cash working capital balances
less the consideration paid by the Fund for the purchase of Units under the
employee Unit purchase plan. Distributable Cash is important as it summarizes
the funds available for distribution to Unitholders.
    EBITDA, Standardized Distributable Cash and Distributable Cash are not
earnings measures recognized under GAAP and do not have standardized meanings
prescribed by GAAP. Therefore, EBITDA, Standardized Distributable Cash and
Distributable Cash may not be comparable with similar measures presented by
other entities. Investors are cautioned that EBITDA, Standardized
Distributable Cash and Distributable Cash should not be construed as an
alternative to net earnings (loss) determined in accordance with GAAP as
indicators of the Fund's performance, or to cash flows from operating,
investing and financing activities as measures of liquidity and cash flows.

    Note to readers: Complete consolidated unaudited interim financial
statements and Management's Discussion & Analysis of Operating Results and
Financial Position are available on Canadian Helicopters' website at and on SEDAR at
    %SEDAR: 00022513EF

For further information:

For further information: Canadian Helicopters Income Fund: Jean-Pierre
Blais, President, (450) 452-3007; Don Wall, Senior Executive Vice-President,
(780) 429-6919

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