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Coronavirus: Air Canada raises close to $500M by selling, leasing back Boeing 737 Max 8s

An Air Canada check-in area is shown at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Saturday, May 16, 2020.
An Air Canada check-in area is shown at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Saturday, May 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Air Canada has raised nearly $500 million by selling and leasing back nine aircraft to help offset the cash drain from COVID-19.

The Montreal-based airline says it completed the sale of nine Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft for $485 million, and long-term lease commitments of $458 million.

Chief financial officer Michael Rousseau says the airline has raised almost $6 billion in liquidity since the start of the pandemic to mitigate the challenges and uncertainty caused by the virus.

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READ MORE: Canadian airlines cancel hundreds of flights as hopes fade for spike in demand

It also recently completed two long-term financings to replace $1.4 billion in short-term debt coming due within the next nine months.

Air Canada says it will continue to explore other financing arrangements that may be required to expand its cash position.

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Travel restrictions and dried-up demand continue to take a toll on the airline and tourism industries, forcing the layoff or furlough of more than 30,000 employees at Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Click to play video 'Air Canada to include free COVID-19, quarantine insurance on some vacation packages' Air Canada to include free COVID-19, quarantine insurance on some vacation packages
Air Canada to include free COVID-19, quarantine insurance on some vacation packages – Sep 1, 2020