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Air Canada

By Wikipedia

Air Canada is Canada's flag carrier airline with its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. The airline provides scheduled and charter air transportation for passengers and cargo to over 160 destinations, vacation packages to over 90 destinations, as well as maintenance (ACTS), ground handling, and training services to other airlines.

Air Canada's main base is Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, however, its largest hub is Toronto Pearson International Airport. Air Canada also uses Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport as a European hub and an Atlantic Canada hub, Vancouver International Airport as its hub for Pacific operations and also uses Calgary International Airport as a focus city. In the past Montréal International Airport was the major hub for Air Canada. Montreal's economic decline in the late 1970's and 1980's had a significant effect on the airport's traffic, as international flights shifted away from Dorval to Toronto Pearson, but now Montreal has once again become an essential hub for Air Canada and many other large airlines.

Air Canada's regional partners include Air Canada Jazz, Air Labrador, Air Georgian, and Central Mountain Air. There is also a premium jet charter service for corporate clients and professional sports teams called Air Canada Jetz.

Air Canada
Air Canada
Founded 1937
Hubs Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Vancouver Int'l Airport
Montréal-Trudeau Int'l Airport
Focus cities /
 secondary hubs
Calgary International Airport
Halifax International Airport
Frequent flyer program Aeroplan
Member lounge Maple Leaf Lounge
Alliance Star Alliance
Fleet size 329
Destinations 240
Parent company ACE Aviation Holdings Inc.
Headquarters Montreal, Quebec
Key people Montie Brewer (CEO)

Created as a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway (CNR), Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) on April 10, 1937, and began operations using a Lockheed 10A on September 1, 1937 carrying two passengers and mail from Vancouver to Seattle. The company was headquartered in Winnipeg which was also the site of the national maintenance base. In 1949, federal policy dictated the headquarters move to Montreal. Later, the maintenance base also moved east. It was a significant blow to western Canada and one of many federal decisions cited in western alienation. By 1964, TCA had grown to become Canada's national airline and in 1964, Jean Chrétien (who eventually became the Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2004) submitted a private member's bill to change the name of the airline from Trans-Canada Airlines to Air Canada. This bill initially failed; however, it was resubmitted and passed. The name change was effective from January 1, 1965. In a late 1970s reorganization at CNR, Air Canada became an independent Crown corporation.

In 1989, Air Canada was completely privatised (ie. the federal government owned zero shares of the company). Air Canada is a founding member of the Star Alliance, which was launched in May 1997. On September 2, 1998 pilots for Air Canada launched the company's first pilots' strike.

At the end of 1999, the Canadian government relaxed some of the aviation regulations, aimed at facilitating a consolidation of the Canadian airline industry. In January 2000 Air Canada acquired Canada's second largest air carrier, Canadian Airlines, subsequently merging the latter's operations into its own. As a result, it became the world's twelfth largest commercial airline.

Air Canada codeshares services on other Star carriers, such as British Midland's Toronto to Manchester, United Kingdom flight.

On April 1, 2003, Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection. Air Canada finally emerged from bankruptcy protection on September 30, 2004, 19 months later. ACE Aviation Holdings is the new parent company under which the reorganized Air Canada is held.

In October 2003, Air Canada became the first airline to launch a non-stop flight between North America and India when it launched daily flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

On August 1, 2004, Air Canada converted the daily Hong Kong – Toronto Pearson International Airport flight AC15/16 with a stop at Vancouver to a non-stop flight taking the Great Circle route near the North Pole [1]. A total distance of 12,569 km (7810 miles), this was accomplished using two brand new A340-500s—this was the first route to Hong Kong applying A340-500 ultra long-haul aircraft.


In October 2004, the airline unveiled new in-flight service products and new aircraft livery. The new theme song, You and I, is sung by Céline Dion. On October 31, 2004, the last Air Canada Boeing 747 flight landed in Toronto, ending more than 30 years of 747 service with the airline. The remaining 747-400s which were previously in service have been superseded by the A340-500, which themselves are due for replacement.

On November 9, 2005, Air Canada announced that it would renew its wide body fleet over several years by purchasing a mixture of Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft.[2] The order included a firm order for 32 aircraft (18 777s and 14 787s) plus options for 64 more aircraft (18 777s and 46 787s), totalling 96 aircraft. The first 777s are to begin arriving in 2006 and the first 787s will begin arriving in 2010. Among the 777s to be delivered to Air Canada are freighter versions, making Air Canada a launch customer of the 777 Freighter (along with Air France-KLM.) All of Air Canada's 777 aircraft (both -200LR and -300ER) will be powered by the GE90-115B engine, the world's most powerful jet engine, while their 787 aircraft will be powered by the GEnx engine.

Air Canada

C-GAGA - an Air Canada Boeing 747-233BM seen in London's Heathrow in September 1984. In fact, this was the first 747-2xxBM Combi (freighter/passenger combo) ever made.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

The order for the 777s will gradually phase out all A340s, including A340-300 and A340-500. In addition, the Boeing 787 will gradually replace the current Boeing 767 and A330-300. Air Canada has also begun to take delivery of Embraer 175 and 190 aircraft which will be used to expand their domestic and transborder routes. Older Airbus A319//A320 will be replaced with some of these new aircraft as delivery permits.

Air Canada is wholly owned by ACE Aviation Holdings and employs 29,198 staff (at January 2005).

In November 2005 Air Canada stopped serving hot meals to all economy class seats for flights within Canada and the United States. A selection of cold foods has been made available for purchase on those flights.

Also in November 2005, Air Canada removed the paint from C-GDSP (A Boeing 767-233ER, Tailfin No: 613), leaving a shiny silver fuselage. This was done in an effort to reduce fuel costs by reducing the weight of the plane, with over 300 pounds of paint being removed. However, the experiment proved unsuccessful and the plane is scheduled to be repainted to the normal livery in March 2006.

Incidents and Accidents

  • November 29, 1963: McDonnell Douglas DC-8 stalled on takeoff out of Montreal-Dorval International Airport. All 118 lives were lost on board. It was the first crash of an Air Canada flight and was one of the worst air disasters in Canadian history.
  • May 19, 1967: McDonnell Douglas DC-8, crashed and burned on a training flight while attempting a three-engine landing at Ottawa, Ontario. All 3 crewmembers were killed. There were no passengers on the flight.
  • July 5, 1970: (AC621) McDonnell Douglas DC-8 exploded from a fuel line rupture caused by engine 4 striking the runway in Toronto, Ontario during the first landing attempt. All 109 passengers/crew were killed.
  • June 21, 1973: McDonnell Douglas DC-8, caught fire and burned to the ground during refueling at Terminal 2, Toronto, Ontario. The Terminal was evacuated. There were no deaths or injuries.
  • June 26, 1978: (AC189) McDonnell Douglas DC-9 overran the runway in Toronto after a blown tire aborted the takeoff. 2 of 107 passengers/crew were killed.
  • June 2, 1982: McDonnell Douglas DC-9 exploded during maintenance period in Montreal, Quebec. No deaths.
  • June 2, 1983: (AC797) McDonnell Douglas DC-9 caught fire after emergency landing at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. 23 of 46 passengers/crew were killed.
  • July 23, 1983: (AC143) Boeing 767 made an emergency landing in Gimli, Manitoba after running out of fuel. No deaths. See Gimli Glider
  • December 16, 1997: (AC646) Bombardier Canadair CRJ-100 crashed on a go-around in Fredericton, New Brunswick. No deaths.


The Air Canada fleet consists of 329 of the following aircraft (as of February 2006):

45 Airbus A319-100 (3 returned in spring 2006)
47 Airbus A320-200
10 Airbus A321-200
8 Airbus A330-300
10 Airbus A340-300
2 Airbus A340-500
12 Boeing 767-200
33 Boeing 767-300
12 Boeing 777-233LR and 4 Boeing 777-333ER on order, with 18 options (replacing all Airbus A340s). 1 additional 777-300ER will be leased to accelerate Airbus A340-300 retirement.
2 Boeing 777-233 Freighters on order
14 Boeing 787-833 on order, with 46 options (replacing all Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s)
50 Bombardier CRJ 100/200ER (Jazz - until June 2006 some are Air Canada)
15 Bombardier CRJ 705 (Jazz)
39 De Havilland Dash 8-100 (DH-1) (Jazz)
23 De Havilland Dash 8-300 (DH-3) (Jazz)
15 Embraer 175
6 Embraer 190 (39 more on order, deliveries began mid-December 2005)

In March 2006, Air Canada fleet average age is 9.8 years old.

In September 2004, the airline confirmed orders for 45 Embraer 190 aircraft (delivery beginning in November) and 30 additional Canadair Regional Jets. The long-term plan of the carrier is to have the 175s replace some of the A319s on shorter routes, allowing those older aircraft to take over numerous A320 routes. As delivery of the Embraer 190 permits, the oldest Airbus A320 will be retired. This is in accordance with Air Canada's ultimate goal of providing more point-to-point service with fuel efficient aircraft.

Historic Fleet

Boeing 747-100 -200 Combi -400 -400 Combi (1971-2004)
Boeing 727-200 (1974-1992)
Boeing 737-200
Bristol 31 (1953-1955)
BAe 146-200
Douglas DC-10
Douglas DC-3 (1945-1963)
Douglas DC-8-40 -50 -60 -70 (1960-1983)
Lancastrian (1943-1947)
Lockheed Super Constellation (1954-1963)
Lockheed Electra (1937-1941)
Lockheed L-1011 -1 -15 -100 -500 (1973-1996)
Lockheed Lodestar (1941-1949)
Lockheed Super Electra (1938-1949)
Douglas DC-9-30 (1966-2002)
Canadair North Star (1946-1961)
Stearman (1937-1939)
Vickers Vanguard (1961-1972)
Vickers Viscount (1955-1974)
Fokker F28

Other Air Canada Facts

During the mid-1990s, Air Canada repainted an Airbus A319 in the Trans-Canada retro livery.

Air Canada is the official carrier of the Toronto Raptors basketball team. One of its Airbus A320's was repainted to honor the team. It was painted with the raptor dinosaur logo on an all-black fuselage, earning it the nickname "Dino-bus".

Air Canada's parent company, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the stock symbol, ACE.RV.

Air Canada unveiled a new aircraft color scheme, and blue uniforms, on 19 October 2004. A Boeing 767-300 was painted in a silvery color with a blue tint. The green tail has been replaced with the same silvery paint, but retains a version of the red maple leaf.

Air Canada was the winner of Best North American Airline in the 2005 World Airline Awards

Air Canada is the only airline in Canada regulated by the Official Languages Act. In-flight services must be provided in both official languages on any route that:
(1) starts, has an intermediate stop or finishes at an airport located in the National Capital Region, the Montreal census metropolitan area or the City of Moncton;
(2) starts and finishes at airports located in the same province, where that province has a linguistic minority population that is equal to at least 5% of the total population (Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick);
(3) runs between two of these provinces. On other routes, services must be provided in both official languages when the demand for service in the minority official language is equal to at least 5% of the total demand. Air Canada was recently ordered by the Federal Court of Canada to apologize to a passenger who had complained about the absence of service in French on a flight to Ottawa.

Air Canada also is the creator of the Dreams Take Flight program which flies special needs kids to Disneyland for a day.

Classes of Service

Air Canada offers two classes of service on the majority of its flights, with single-class service offered on some short-haul Air Canada Jazz regional routings (Dash 8-100, Dash 8-300, CRJ, Beech 1900D).

Air Canada's premium international service is Executive First and is offered on the vast majority of their transcontinental services. Executive First currently features a 2-2-2 or 1-2-2 seating arrangement of seats reclining to around 155 degrees. Individual televisions (A340, 767), Video-On-Demand (A330, A340) or Personal DVD players (767) are offered to Executive First customers. A premium 4-course meal service is offered, with "cart-less" service and food served in restaurant-style bowls or plates, as opposed to traditional casserole corningware. Beginning in the first quarter of 2006, Air Canada will replace the current Executive First seats on all its aircraft (except the A340s, which will be phased out) to individual lie-flat suites, in a 1-2-1 arrangement, giving customers greater privacy as well as a full length bed. This move is designed to compete with airlines such as Cathay Pacific and British Airways, who offer similar services.

Air Canada's domestic premium service is Executive Class, a toned down version of their international service. Premium meals as well as individualized service is offered, but currently only mainscreen entertainment is available. However, with Air Canada's fleet and seating renewal, beginning in 2006 all aircraft will be refitted with new Executive Class seats with personal televisions. A similar meal service to Executive First is offered.

Hospitality Service is Air Canada's version of economy class. Recently, meals have been removed on all North American flights to cut costs, but meals are still offered on transcontinental and Hawaiian routings. Along with the Business Class seat renewals, Hospitality Class seats will be replaced with personal entertainment-equipped seats gradually over the next few years.

For those who have trouble figuring out which letter on their boarding pass maps to the named classes shown on the website, here is a rough breakdown as listed on the 2007 Aeroplan upgrade certificates - Tango (R, I, N, G, P, E, T), Tango Plus (B, H, V, Q , L, A), Latitude (M, U), Latitude Plus (Y) and Executive (J, C). It helps to know this mapping when booking through non-AirCanada agents.


On most Air Canada jets, there is a main screen (with overhead TVs on top of every few seats) which broadcasts recorded CBC news and other Hollywood movies. On the A340-500, every passenger has a TV, which is powered by a custom design Linux variant, and their enRoute program. Passengers can learn facts and figures of cities, and where they are using the GPS system installed on the plane. Beginning on February 13, Air Canada begin launching the new state-of-the-art Thales i4500 in-flight entertainment system on their fleet of Embraer 175 and 190 aircraft. This in-seat entertainment system, which is being introduced fleet-wide, features 8.9-inch wide digital in-seat monitors and touch-screen controls offering audio and video on demand programming at every seat.


In 2001, Air Canada consolidated Air BC, Air Nova, Air Ontario and Canadian Regional Airlines into Air Canada Jazz a wholly owned subsidiary of ACE Aviation Holdings. In early February 2006, a portion of Jazz was spun off by ACE Aviation Holdings.
In 2001, Air Canada launched Air Canada Tango, which offered no-frills service and lower fares between major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and also to some holiday destinations such as Fort Lauderdale. Tango aircraft were painted with the Air Canada design but in purple. It is thought that Tango was intended to be Air Canada's vehicle for competing against the low cost carrier Canada 3000. The Tango service was dissolved in 2004. Air Canada calls their lowest fare class "Tango" as an homage to the low-cost experiment.
In 2002, Air Canada launched Zip, a discount airline to compete directly with Westjet on routes in Western Canada. Zip operated as a separate airline with its own staff, and had brightly painted aircraft. It also was disbanded in 2004.
Launched in 2002, Air Canada Jetz still exists as a charter service for sports teams and professionals.
In 2005, it split off a portion of its frequent flyer program, Aeroplan, into a separate company. Aeroplan has evolved into a broader customer loyalty program, with partnerships with Bell Canada, Future Shop, and others.


Allen, Oliver E. The Airline Builders. Alexandria, Va: Time-Life Books, 1981.
Allen, Roy. The Pan Am Clipper: The History of Pan American's Flying Boats 1931 to 1946. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 2000.
Davies, R.E.G. Airlines of the United States Since 1914. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982
Davies, R.E.G. Pan Am: An Airline and Its Aircraft. New York: Orion Books, 1987.
Bilstein, Roger. Flight in America: From the Wrights to the Astronauts, Rev. ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Heppenheimer, T.A. Turbulent Skies: The History of Commercial Aviation. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995.


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Image courtesy Air Canada

Airline: Air Canada


Location: Canada


Status: Still flying

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