Canadian Airlines

Canadian Airlines

Infobox Airline
airline = Canadian Airlines International
Canadien Ligne aérienne

logo_size = 150
fleet_size = 163
destinations = 160 in 17 countries
callsign = CANADIAN
parent = Canadian Airlines Corporation
founded = 1987 (amalgamation)
ceased = 2001 (acquired by Air Canada)
headquarters = Calgary, Alberta
key_people = Kevin Benson (President and CEO)
hubs = Montréal-Dorval Int'l Airport (since renamed)
Calgary Int'l Airport
Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Vancouver Int'l Airport
frequent_flyer = "defunct" ("formerly " Canadian Plus)
lounge = "defunct" ("formerly" Empress Lounge)
alliance = "formerly" Oneworld
website = n/a
formerly []

Canadian Airlines International Ltd. was, from 1987 until 2001, Canada's second largest airline after Air Canada, carrying more than 11.9 million passengers to over 160 destinations in 17 countries on five continents at its height in 1996. Canadian Airlines served 105 destinations in Canada, more than any other airline.

Canadian Airlines was headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, and had revenue of approximately $3 billion at the end of 1999. The airline and its planes were acquired by Air Canada in 2001.


Canadian Airlines International Ltd., which was the principal subsidiary of Canadian Airlines Corporation (formerly PWA Corporation), was the descendant of five predecessor airlines. On March 27, 1987, Canadian Pacific Airlines, Eastern Provincial Airways, Nordair and Pacific Western Airlines amalgamated to form the new airline.

PWA Corporation acquired Wardair in 1989, establishing Canadian as an important player in the global industry with the addition of new routes. Its major hubs were at Montréal-Dorval International Airport (now known as Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport), Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, and Calgary International Airport. Canadian Airlines streamlined its operations and went through the financial restructuring of over $700 million in debt, after the 1991 airline industry slump.

On November 1 1996, Kevin Benson, then president and CEO, unveiled a restructuring strategy to improve the profitability of Canadian Airlines. The operational restructuring plan was supposed to be phased in over a four year period, addressing the main issues of cost control, revenue growth, capitalization and fleet renewal. It was also one of the founding members of the Oneworld airline alliances, along with American Airlines and British Airways. The plan started off well but with the Asian economic downturn 1998, air traffic decreased and Canadian was suffering on what was previously its most profitable route.Canadian Plus was the largest frequent flyer program in Canada with more than 60 airline, hotel, car rental, and financial partners worldwide. The program had more than three million members.

In its last few years of operation, Canadian Airlines extended its international route network in Asia, with the most recent expansion of service to Malaysia and the Philippines, which gave it eight destinations in Asia. At that time Canadian Airlines had the distinction of flying to more places in Asia, more often, than any other Canadian carrier.

Canadian Airlines' core business strategy focused on building its Vancouver hub into the leading gateway between North America and Asia. It leveraged its codesharing agreement with American Airlines in order to help capture a greater share of U.S.-Asia traffic flows.

After continued poor performance, Canadian Airlines was acquired by Air Canada in 2000. Numerous other proposals for survival had been considered and rejected, including a competing bid led by American Airlines to purchase Canadian Airlines. American Airlines had already owned a 25% stake in Canadian Airlines, the maximum allowed under regulations. Then-American CEO Donald J. Carty, who had formerly headed Canadian predecessor Canadian Pacific Airlines and Air Canada, planned to acquire a controlling interest in the new Air Canada, with the purpose of moving it from the Star Alliance to Oneworld. American has since sold its shares in Air Canada, after unsuccessfully lobbying Canadian federal government to ease foreign ownership restrictions on Canadian airlines.



The most famous and well-known livery of Canadian used four colours: light grey, dark grey, navy blue, and red. The lower half of the aircraft's body was navy blue, topped with light grey and red borders. The tail was two-thirds blue, with the remaining third taken up by a light grey colour. Over the light grey were five dark grey lines, representing the five continents served by the carrier. Over these lines was a thick, bright red chevron ">". This character was a clever alternative to a true bilingual name on the fuselage (Canadian/Canadien).

Its last livery with a Canada Goose painted at the tail of the aircraft is known as the "Proud Wings" livery. However, it came late enough that most of the fleet still retained the existing chevron livery by the time of the merger.

Also, during the acquisition by Air Canada, part of the "Proud Wings" livery was completely replaced with a white body (with the exception of the word Canadian) and an Air Canada tail (with a red maple leaf against a dark green background.)


At the time of its acquisition by Air Canada, it operated a fleet of 163 aircraft. The following is a list of aircraft belonging to both Canadian Airlines and CP Air:
*Airbus A320
*Boeing 737-200, 200-ELR and 200-Combi
*Boeing 767-300ER
*Boeing 747-400 and Combi
*Douglas DC-10-30
*Fokker F28-1000
*British Aerospace J-31
*DeHavilland Canada Dash 8-100 and 300
*Beech 1900-D


Canadian Airlines offered three classes:
* First Class (F)
* Business Class (J)
* Canadian Class (Y)
** referred to as Economy Class on turbo prop aircraft

First Class was available on flights using wide body jets and Business Classes on flights not using regional jets or turbo prop aircraft.


Food from flights within Canada were provided by LSG Sky Chefs and all other flights by local contractors. Flights out of London LHR to all Canadian airports was covered by LSG Sky Chefs. Barry Perrin was the Account Manager and did an excellent job until he was transferred to Chicago ORD where he carried out his duties until shortly after 911 and then returned to the UK


Maintenance was provided by in-house operations during the existence of the airlines. Aircraft would be serviced by other airlines at airports without CA operations.

Ground handling

Ground handling was provided by in-house operations during the existence of the airlines. Aircraft would be serviced by other airlines or handling agents at airports without CA operations.


Most international and medium haul flights provided both video and audio entertainment. Short haul flights provided audio entertainment only.

Newspapers and magazines

Newspapers provided in-flight on most aircraft:
* "Canadian" - the official in-flight magazine of Canadian Airlines
* newspapers - Globe and Mail, USA Today
* magazines - Maclean's


Canadian lounges were called "Empress Lounge" and were located at several airports in Canada and abroad:
* Calgary International Airport
* Edmonton City Centre (Blatchford Field) Airport and Edmonton International Airport
* Halifax International Airport
* Montréal-Dorval International Airport and Montréal-Mirabel International Airport
* Ottawa International Airport
* San Francisco International Airport
* Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 3
* Vancouver International Airport
* Ástor Piazzola International Airport, Buenos Aires, Argentina
* Mexico City International Airport
* Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
* Guarulhos International Airport, San Paulo, Brazil
* Don Mueang International Airport. Bangkok, Thailand
* Beijing Capital International Airport
* Hong Kong International Airport - Kai Tak and Chep Lap Kok
* Nagoya Airport
* Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan)
* Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan
* Auckland International Airport
* Sydney Airport
* Frankfurt International Airport
* London Heathrow Airport
* Malpensa International Airport in Milan, Italy
* Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France
* Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome, Italy


Canadian Airlines' domestic network was broken down into five divisions:
* Canadian Regional Airlines, which served 69 destinations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, and the United States. Canadian Regional was 100 percent owned by Canadian Airlines.
* Calm Air International Ltd. which served 27 destinations in Manitoba, northwestern Ontario, and the Northwest Territories. Calm Air was 45 percent owned by Canadian Regional and continues to operate under separate management.
* Inter-Canadien Inc. served Ottawa, Toronto, Labrador, and 26 destinations throughout Quebec. Inter-Canadien was 100 percent owned by Canadian Regional.
* Air Atlantic, a regional partner of Canadian Airlines, served 16 destinations throughout the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario, and the United States.
* Canadian North was a division of Canadian Airlines created to serve the northern regions. Canadian North had a network of 10 destinations that expanded from its southern bases of Edmonton and Winnipeg. Canadian North also had a commercial agreement with Aklak Air, an Inuit-owned and operated airline in the Northwest Territories. Canadian North was sold in 1998 to Norterra and continues to operate as an independent airline.

Other info

Canadian Airlines operated the largest tour operator in Canada called Canadian Holidays and the Canadian Getaways program. The operator flew to destinations which included:
* Florida
* Bahamas
* Barbados
* Bermuda
* Mexico
* Cuba
* Dominican Republic
* St. Kitts
* Jamaica
* Grand Cayman
* Costa Rica
* Hawaii
* Arizona
* California
* Nevada
* Puerto Rico
* Tortola

Canadian Air Cargo provided general air cargo services in Canada and the United States.

Services included:
* Priority Service
* Express Overnight Door-to-Door
* General Air Cargo

In 1994, the Canadian Children's show Mighty Machines filmed one of their episodes (Mighty Machines at the Airport) at Toronto Pearson International Airport, starring a couple of Canadian Airlines jets (a DC10 and an A320) and several other of the carrier's vehicles. Canadian jets and staff also had cameos during the Airport scene of .


No fatalities occurred during the existence of Canadian Airlines. There were only two major incidents:

* September 1997 - B767 experienced an engine fire
* October 1995 - DC10 experienced an engine fire


External links

* [ ALPA-Former Canadian Pilots]
* [ Images of Canadian Airlines planes]
* [ Aviation Safety Network - CAI]

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