North

Discovery Air in $149M debt, granted protection from creditors

Discovery Air has been given protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which means the company can stay in business and avoid bankruptcy.

Company selling its 3 businesses: Air Tindi, Great Slave Helicopters and Discovery Mining Services

An Air Tindi plane in Yellowknife. Tindi's parent company, Discovery Air, has been granted protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, meaning it can stay in business and avoid bankruptcy. (James Mackenzie/Canadian Press)

Discovery Air has been granted creditor protection under the federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, which means the company can stay in business and avoid bankruptcy.

Protection is granted to companies with more than $5 million in debt, so they can work with their creditors to find a solution and restructure their businesses.

Discovery Air owes about $149 million in secured and unsecured debts as of January 31, according to court documents.

Discovery Air is the parent company of three businesses: Great Slave Helicopters, Air Tindi and Discovery Mining Services Ltd. It will be selling all of them.

None of the three businesses have filed for protection.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved the protection from creditors with the condition that Discovery Air will work under the supervision of the court. The company will go through a court-supervised sale process.

'It's business as usual,' says Air Tindi president

Alasdair Martin, president of Air Tindi and Great Slave Helicopters, wants people to know this won't affect jobs.

"It's business as usual. There's really no change," said Martin. "We'll demonstrate that through our actions as well."

Martin said there are about 400 employees working for the three companies.

Clairvest Group Inc., a private equity management firm in Toronto, has submitted a bid to buy Air Tindi, Great Slave Helicopters and Discovery Mining Services Ltd.

Alasdair Martin, president of Air Tindi and Great Slave Helicopters, wants people to know that this won’t affect people’s jobs. (Submitted by Alasdair Martin)

Clairvest is also the largest creditor for Discovery Air, which owes Clairvest $72.7 million.

Other bids may come in over the coming week, but Martin said Clairvest's bid is strong. It's not for anyone looking to pick up "something cheap," he said.

He said the likely outcome is "that we end up as a northern group of businesses very much based in Yellowknife."

Martin said he thinks that's a good thing — "to be northern based and northern controlled and have that understanding on the ground."

The court process deciding what to do with the companies and the creditors should last about three or four months. The next hearing is scheduled for April 4.

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