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Motor coach merger puts Winnipeg bus maker on road out of pandemic

Motor Coach carriers say they're worried they won't survive the pandemic, thanks to the huge drop-off in tourism. Shane Gibson/Global News

Two large North American bus manufacturers have announced a merger, a move they say was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Winnipeg’s New Flyer Industries announced Monday that it’s merging with Motor Coach Industries, which it initially acquired five years ago.

“While we have been working to streamline our businesses to enhance competitiveness by leveraging scale, expertise, and capability, the drastic and unanticipated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to revisit our unique business definitions,” said New Flyer president and CEO Paul Soubry.

“We will overcome the incredible impact from this pandemic and will keep communities moving safely as we continue to lead the migration to smarter vehicles and develop more environmentally responsible platforms.”

Read more: Winnipeg’s New Flyer brings 1,500 local staff back to work, with more to come

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New Flyer acquired MCI in 2015, but the merger will combine and streamline both operations into a single North American bus and coach business. Both brands will be retained, but under a single umbrella.

MCI president Ian Smart said navigating the pandemic has been difficult for both businesses, but that the merger — which will save an estimated US$75 million a year — is going to set NFI Forward — the merged company’s new initiative — on the right track.

Both companies had previously undertaken cost-saving measures throughout the pandemic, including cutting 400 jobs. Smart said the merger has resulted in further job loss in some executive positions.

“We know the past several months have been extremely hard on all of our customers, and our primary focus was to continue providing exceptional customer care as they responded to the pandemic,” said  Smart.

“The dramatic drop-off of the motor coach market, and the challenges resulting from COVID-19 presented an opportunity to integrate MCI into New Flyer, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective combined business.”

Click to play video: 'Motorcoach industry struggles'
Motorcoach industry struggles

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