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Blade results show strong growth
As Covid restrictions are lifted and Americans return to travel, Blade has seen record volumes across its business lines this year. Its strategy of aggregating best use UAM cases and last-mile cargo is paying off.

US technology-powered air mobility platform Blade Air Mobility has reported its financial results for the first quarter ended 31 March, 2022.

“It's very rewarding to see such strong growth, both sequentially and year-over-year, in what has seasonally been the lightest quarter for Blade,” says CEO Rob Wiesenthal. "This is a testament to our success in diversifying Blade's geographic footprint and customer base while staying true to our core strategy of aggregating the world's best existing use cases for urban air mobility and last-mile critical cargo.

"With Omicron now largely behind us, we are pleased to be seeing record volumes across our various business lines. People are travelling again, and they are trying Blade."

“Despite expected margin compression in the March quarter, we have seen a strong rebound in demand for our consumer-facing products in recent weeks as Covid restrictions have been lifted and Americans return to travel,” adds CFO Will Heyburn. "In our New York airport transfer business, we've been rewarded for maintaining service levels, posting our best week of flier volumes ever this month."

President Melissa Tomkiel continues: “Our distinctive asset-light approach has served us well. Blade's ability to aggregate demand across our consumer and MediMobility businesses has enabled us to efficiently direct flight hours to our operators, securing exclusive, long-term access to aircraft at attractive rates.”

First quarter financial highlights include an increase in total revenues of 187 per cent to $26.6 million versus $9.3 million in 1Q21, and short distance revenues increased 300 per cent to $4.2 million versus $1.1 million. Organic growth was driven by the resumption of the Blade Airport service and growth in demand for corporate and personal helicopter charter. Blade's acquisition of Helijet's commuter passenger routes, which comprises the Vancouver business, contributed $1.8 million of revenues in the period, with depressed passenger volumes due to impacts from COVID-19 restrictions in British Columbia.

MediMobility organ transport and jet revenues increased 186 per cent to $22.1 million versus $7.7 million in 1Q21, driven by the addition of new hospital and jet clients, Blade's acquisition of Trinity Air Medical and stronger demand for the seasonal BladeOne jet service between New York and south Florida.

As expected, flight margin decreased this quarter, falling to 11 per cent versus 16 per cent y-o-y, driven primarily by the Blade Airport service, which requires operating at low passenger utilisation per flight during the ramp phase and Omicron impacts to both Blade Airport and Vancouver. Absent Blade Airport and Vancouver, flight margins would have been approximately 17 per cent in the current quarter. Blade expects utilisation in its Blade Airport and Vancouver businesses to improve from first quarter levels as a result of improving travel demand and the elimination of COVID-19 restrictions, while recent seat price increases across its business are expected to further improve flight margins in future quarters.

Net loss increased to $11.0 million versus $4.2 million in 1Q21, driven primarily by a $9.2 million increase in general and administrative (G&A) costs partially offset by a $2.6 million favourable change in the fair value of warrant liabilities. The increase in G&A is attributable to (i) a $2.7 million increase in staff costs through new hires to support the company becoming public in May 2021 as well as Blade's significant growth, both organically and through the consolidation of Trinity; (ii) a $1.7 million increase in legal and regulatory advocacy fees, which it does not expect to reoccur at this level; (iii) a $1.6 million increase in directors and officers (D&O) insurance expense following the company becoming public; (iv) a $1.0 million increase in non-cash intangibles amortisation costs in connection with the Trinity and Helijet transactions; and (v) a $1.0 million increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transaction costs.

Adjusted EBITDA decreased to $(7.7) million in the current quarter from $(2.2) million in the prior year period. This is primarily attributable to additional corporate and recurring expenses related to Blade's growth and status as a public company, partially offset by increased flight profit. Excluding $2.2 million in new recurring public company expenses paid to third parties, primarily D&O insurance costs and professional fees, comparable adjusted EBITDA of $(5.5) million in the current quarter decreased versus $(2.2) million y-o-y, driven primarily by increased corporate expenses, partially offset by increased flight profit.

Business highlights and recent updates include the Airport business continuing to experience a rapid recovery from Omicron-related impacts, achieving a record annualised weekly passenger run-rate of approximately 25,000 fliers this month, well ahead of the pre-covid and December 2021 peaks. On 20 April, 2022 Blade announced the formation of Paris, France-headquartered Blade Europe to accelerate international growth of its urban air mobility network. And on 14 April, 2022 Blade announced an expansion of its MediMobility footprint with the addition of 14 new transplant centres in 2022, solidifying the company's position as the largest dedicated air transporter of human organs for transplant in the US. Blade now serves more than 40 organ procurement organisations and transplant centres in 20 US states.

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