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Air Canada shares down 22% as Brewer leaves and banker arrives

The announced departure of Air Canada giant, Montie Brewer, President and CEO since 2004 (and CEO for two years before that), along with his COO, Bill Brett, has opened the way for Calvin Rovinescu and Duncan Dee respectively to take over. The two were a team under Brewer in 2003-04, when the carrier filed for bankruptcy.

This has caused many investors - encouraged by analyst suggestions of a better than even chance that Air Canada will re-enter bankruptcy - to flee the market. The result, a 22.0% fall in the carrier's stock price yesterday. Whether bankruptcy is anticipated, with the two specialists (and reputed hatchet men) in place, or whether their goal is to prune the airline to avoid re-entering, is yet to be seen.

Whatever the case, dramatic changes are clearly imminent at Air Canada, with slumping sales and yields and an increasingly powerful competitor in Westjet.

Otherwise, most airline stocks followed the overall market course, rising by up to 4.9% (Alaska Air). The main loser, other than Air Canada, was JetBlue (-5.0%). The LCC, with partial shareholding from Lufthansa, has shed nearly 50% of its value since the beginning of this year.

North & South America airlines daily share price movements (% change): 31-Mar-09