Continental Airlines and Texas International Airlines told their shareholders yesterday that they have reached an agreement with most of their major lenders to restructure a total of $295 million of long-term debt of the two companies.
The two carriers are expected to be consolidated financially next week during shareholders' meetings of Texas Air Corp., which wholly owns Texas International, and Continental, which is 51 percent owned by Texas Air. Information about the new debt agreement was included in a supplemental proxy statement mailed to shareholders over the weekend.
"This is a strong vote of confidence for both companies and for our proposed financial consolidation," said Frank Lorenzo, chairman of Continental and president of Texas Air. "The agreement is an important part of our plan to return both companies to long-term profitability."
The new agreement stretches out Continental's existing senior debt, including a four-year revolving-credit agreement, into a new seven-year loan. The new loan agreement also reorganizes existing collateral arrangements to provide security for a $48 million loan from a group of banks led by Manufacturer's Hanover Trust Co. The loan was used by Texas International to help it acquire Continental's stock last year. That also will have a seven-year term.
Continental has been making all of its principal and interest payments as scheduled under its existing loan agreement. But because it was unable to meet certain financial ratio requirements in the agreement--as are several other carriers--the Los Angeles-based airline has been obtaining monthly amendments from its lenders.
Lorenzo said completion of the new agreement will eliminate the necessity of continuing to obtain the month-to-month amendments.
The proxy material said Continental also will prepay $10 million of the bank debt from its cash reserves. Adding to those reserves is an after-tax gain of $26.5 million Continental expects from completion of the sale of a California office building this year and from the proceeds of a recent sale of some gates at Houston Intercontinental Airport, the material disclosed.
A short-term, $25 million loan partially guaranteed by Texas Air earlier this year and secured by the building will be repaid from part of the proceeds, the proxy material said.
The proxy says that approval of the debt restructuring by the remaining bank and institutional lenders and an agreement on various financial covenants is necessary before a final agreement can be reached. Continental's major lenders are a group of eight bankers, led by Chase Manhattan, and six insurance companies.
Noting that Continental is continuing to talk with its unions about hoped-for work-rule changes that would reduce Continental's costs, a Continental official expressed optimism yesterday about the combined company's new future. He said the passenger-generating benefits of schedule connections put into effect by the two airlines June 1 already are running way ahead of expectations.
In another development, World Airways also said it has reached agreement under which some of its creditors will defer about $14 million of debt and rental payments on aircraft originally due between March 1982 and June 30, 1983. The new payment period will run from September 1984 to September 1986.
World Senior Vice President Brian A. Cooke called the easing of the burden of debt service "a crucially positive move" for the airline.