Chorus Aviation, parent company of Jazz Aviation, which provides about 70% of Air Canada Express's network capacity, was once known only for that work. Two years ago, Chorus began a diversification effort that includes a heavy dose of aircraft leasing with a bit of MRO mixed in.
The company’s leasing aspirations are clear: it wants to become one of the largest providers of 70-to-135-seat aircraft in the world. Last month, its newly formed Chorus Aviation Capital unit bought six ATR 72-600s with leases attached, boosting its budding portfolio to 10 aircraft (excluding aircraft tied to Air Canada capacity-purchase agreements). It has signaled that more deals are on the horizon.
On the MRO side, aspirations are a bit less grand. Last year, Chorus set up Jazz Technical Services (JTS) to leverage its Bombardier MRO know-how (the entire Jazz fleet is Bombardier turboprops and jets) to win third-party work. JTS won two third-party deals for heavy checks and a contract from Air Canada to refurbish some Jazz Dash 8-300 interiors to the mainline carrier’s new specs.
Last year, Chorus also re-branded its Voyageur Aerospace aircraft charter, leasing, and MRO subsidiary, forming three related entities: Voyager Airways, Voyageur AeroTech, and Voyager AvParts.
Avparts is eying the regional aircraft end-of-life and supply-chain markets. It has parted out three ex-Jazz Dash 8-100s and acquired three CJR-200s for the same purpose. The work gives its sister airline company a welcome option to sunset aircraft and builds its own parts inventory for possible third-party customers.
AeroTech, an approved maintenance organization and design-approval holder, will focus on MRO and special projects, like a recently unveiled Dash 8-100 freighter conversion package.
Chorus President and CEO Joe Randell says the company's MRO ventures, while “growing,” are “not a big part of our overall business.” Its primary growth avenue will be leasing, but the company will remain “opportunistic" across the board.
While Voyageur's charter operation offers a few King Airs, the Chorus portfolio has been traditionally CRJs and Dash 8s/Q400s. Last month’s deal for ATRs shows that Chorus is not afraid to move beyond its traditional expertise—Bombardier aircraft—in pursuit of its goals.
Chorus sees its MRO businesses as key providers of in-house support for its other ventures. Does that mean it would consider expanding its aftermarket operations to support the broadening lease portfolio's customers base?
"We would certainly see that as being in our scope,” he told analysts on a recent earnings call. "When I mentioned earlier about being opportunistic, that's, for instance, a perfect example.”