Air Canada

Air Canada
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 11 April 1937 (1937-04-11)
(as Trans-Canada Air Lines)[1]
Commenced operations 1 January 1965 (as Air Canada)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program
Airport lounge Maple Leaf Lounge
Alliance Star Alliance
Fleet size 169 (mainline)
Destinations 200 (incl. subsidiaries)
Company slogan 'Your World Awaits' (English)
'Tout Un Monde Vous Attend' (French)
Headquarters Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Key people
Revenue Increase CAN$13.8 billion (2015)[4]
Operating income Increase CAN$1.496 billion (2015)
Net income Increase CAN$318 million (2015)
Total assets Increase CAN$13.127 billion (2015)
Total equity Increase CAN$40 million (2015)
Employees 28,000 (2015)

Air Canada (TSX: AC) is the flag carrier and largest airline of Canada. The airline, founded in 1937, provides scheduled and charter air transport for passengers and cargo to 182 destinations worldwide. It is the world's tenth-largest passenger airline by fleet size, and is a founding member of the Star Alliance.[5] Air Canada's corporate headquarters are located in Montreal, Quebec.[6] Air Canada had passenger revenues of CA$13.8 billion in 2015.[7] The airline's regional service is Air Canada Express.

Canada's national airline originated from the Canadian federal government's 1936 creation of Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), which began operating their first transcontinental flight routes in 1938. In 1965, TCA was renamed Air Canada following government approval. After the deregulation of the Canadian airline market in the 1980s, the airline was privatized in 1988. On 4 January 2000, Air Canada acquired their largest rival, Canadian Airlines. In 2003, the airline filed for bankruptcy protection and in the following year emerged and reorganized under the holding company ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. In 2006, 34 million people flew with Air Canada as the airline celebrated their 70th anniversary.

Air Canada has a fleet of Airbus A330, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, and Boeing 787 wide-body jetliners on long-haul routes and uses the Airbus A320 family aircraft, including the A319, A320, and A321 variations, and Embraer E190 family aircraft on short-haul routes. The carrier's operating divisions include Air Canada Cargo, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge. Their subsidiary, Air Canada Vacations, provides vacation packages to over 90 destinations. Together with their regional partners, the airline operates on average more than 1,530 scheduled flights daily.[8]


Trans-Canada Airlines

Main article: Trans-Canada Airlines
Lockheed Model 10A Electra "CF-TCC" in Trans-Canada Air Lines livery at the Western Canada Aviation Museum

Air Canada's predecessor, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), was created by federal legislation as a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway (CNR) on 11 April 1936.[1] The newly created Department of Transport under Minister C. D. Howe desired an airline under government control to link cities on the Atlantic coast to those on the Pacific coast. Using $5 million in Crown seed money, two Lockheed Model 10 Electras and one Boeing Stearman biplane were purchased from Canadian Airways[9] and experienced airline executives from United Airlines and American Airlines were brought in.[1]

Passenger flights began on 1 September 1937, with an Electra carrying two passengers and mail from Vancouver to Seattle, a $14.20 round trip,[1] and, on 1 July 1938, TCA hired their first flight attendants.[10] Transcontinental routes from Montreal to Vancouver began on 1 April 1939, using 12 Lockheed Model 14 Super Electras and six Lockheed Model 18 Lodestars.[9] By January 1940, the airline had grown to about 500 employees.[10]

Trans-Canada Air Lines Lockheed 14H2 in 1938

Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air) suggested in 1942 a merger with TCA. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King rejected the proposal and introduced legislation regulating TCA as the only airline in Canada allowed to provide transcontinental flights. With the increase in air travel after World War II, CP Air was granted one coast-to-coast flight and a few international routes.[1]

Originally headquartered in Winnipeg, which was also the site of the national maintenance base, the federal government moved TCA's headquarters to Montreal in 1949; the maintenance base later also moved east. With the development of the ReserVec in 1953, TCA became the first airline in the world to use a computer reservation system with remote terminals.[11][12]

By 1964, TCA had grown to become Canada's national airline and, in 1964, Jean Chrétien submitted a private member's bill to change the name of the airline from Trans-Canada Airlines to Air Canada, which TCA had long used as its French-language name. This bill failed but it was later resubmitted and passed, with the name change taking effect on 1 January 1965.[9] Elizabeth II, the reigning Queen of Canada, flew on the first aircraft to bear the name and livery of Air Canada when she departed for the United Kingdom at the end of her 1964 tour of Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Ontario in 1964.[13]

1970s and 1980s: early years

Revenue Passenger-Kilometers, scheduled flights only, in millions
Year Traffic
1950 727
1955 1551
1960 3284
1965 5702
1969 9074
1971 10343
1975 16270
1980 23752
1985 21718
2000 44806
Source: ICAO Digest of Statistics for 1950-55, IATA World Air Transport Statistics 1960-2000
1 Place Ville-Marie, which previously housed Air Canada's headquarters

During the 1970s government regulations ensured Air Canada's dominance over domestic regional carriers and rival CP Air.[14] Short-haul carriers were each restricted to one of five regions, and could not compete directly with Air Canada and CP Air.[14] CP Air was subject to capacity limits on intercontinental flights, and restricted from domestic operations. Air Canada's fares were also subject to regulation by the government.[14]

In the late 1970s, with reorganization at CNR, Air Canada became an independent Crown corporation. The Air Canada Act of 1978 ensured that the carrier would compete on a more equal footing with rival regional airlines and CP Air, and ended the government's direct regulatory control over Air Canada's routings, fares, and services.[14] The act also transferred ownership from Canadian National Railway to a subsidiary of the national government.[1] Deregulation of the Canadian airline market, under the new National Transportation Act, 1987 officially opened the airline market in Canada to equal competition.[15] The carrier's fleet expansion saw the acquisition of Boeing 727, Boeing 747, and Lockheed Tristar jetliners.[12] In 1978 Judy Cameron became the first female pilot hired to fly for any major Canadian carrier when she was hired to fly by Air Canada.[16]

Air Canada Vickers Viscount turboprop being prepared for departure from Toronto in 1971
Air Canada Boeing 747-100 in 1965-1988 livery

With new fleet expenditures outpacing earnings, Air Canada officials indicated that the carrier would need additional sources of capital to fund their modernisation.[14] By 1985 the Canadian government was indicating a willingness to privatise both Canadian National Railways and Air Canada.[14] In 1988 Air Canada was privatised, and 43% of shares are sold on the public market,[9] with the initial public offering completed in October of that year.[14] By this time, long-haul rival CP Air had become Canadian Airlines International following their acquisition by Pacific Western Airlines.[12]

On 7 December 1987, Air Canada became the first airline in the world with a fleet-wide non-smoking policy,[17] and in 1989 became completely privatised.[9] The successful privatisation effort was aided by a public relations effort led by company president Claude I. Taylor and chief executive officer Pierre J. Jeanniot.[14]

1990s: strategic changes

1993-2004 livery on a Boeing 767-300ER

In the early 1990s, Air Canada encountered financial difficulties as the airline industry slumped in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War.[12] In response, the airline restructured management by hiring former Delta Air Lines executive Hollis L. Harris as its CEO. Harris restructured the airline's operations, reduced management positions, moved the corporate headquarters to Dorval Airport,[12] and sold the enRoute card business to Diners Club in 1992.[18] By 1994, Air Canada had returned to profitability.[12] The same year also saw the carrier winning route access to fly from Canada to the new Kansai Airport in Osaka, Japan.[12]

In 1995, taking advantage of a new U.S.-Canada open skies agreement, Air Canada added 30 new trans-border routes.[12] In May 1997, Air Canada became a founding member of the Star Alliance, with the airline launching codeshares with several of the alliance's members. The second half of the 1990s saw the airline earn consistent profits, totaling $1 billion for the 1997 to 1999 period.[12]

On 2 September 1998, pilots for Air Canada launched the company's first pilots' strike,[19] demanding higher wages.[14] At the end of 1999, the Canadian government relaxed some of the aviation regulations, aimed at creating a consolidation of the Canadian airline industry. That year, American Airlines in conjunction with Canadian financial company Onex Corp, launched a takeover bid of ailing rival Canadian Airlines and Air Canada, spurring Air Canada to submit a competing offer for their largest rival.[12]

2000s: merger and reorganization

A former Canadian Airlines Boeing 747-400 in hybrid livery at Hong Kong International Airport in 2001

In January 2001, Air Canada acquired Canada's second largest air carrier, Canadian Airlines, merging the latter's operations, becoming the world's twelfth-largest airline in the first decade of the 21st century.[9] As Air Canada gained access to their former rival's financial statements, officials learned that the carrier was in worse financial shape than was previously believed.[14] An expedited merger strategy was pursued, but in summer 2000 integration efforts led to flight delays, luggage problems and other frustrations.[14] However, service improved following Air Canada officials' pledge to do so by January 2001.[14] The airline was confronted by the global aviation market downturn and increased competition, posting back-to-back losses in 2001 and 2002.[14]

Bankruptcy and restructuring

As Air Canada had employed a scorched earth policy to prevent the Onex proposed acquisition as one of its lines of defence, they had burdened themselves with onerous contracts with virtually all of their suppliers. As a result, on 1 April 2003, Air Canada filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act; they emerged from this protection on 30 September 2004, 18 months later. During the period of bankruptcy protection, the company was subject to two competing bids from Cerberus Capital Management and Victor Li. The Cerberus bid would have seen former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney installed as chairman, being recruited by Cerberus' international advisory board chair Dan Quayle, the former Vice President of the United States. Cerberus was rejected because they had a reputation of changing existing employee pension agreements, a move strongly opposed by the CAW. At first, Air Canada selected Victor Li's Trinity Time Investments, which initially asked for a board veto and the chairmanship in return for investing $650 million in the airline. Li, who holds dual citizenship from Canada and Hong Kong, later demanded changes to the pension plan (which was not in his original takeover bid), but since the unions refused to budge, the bid was withdrawn.[20]

Airbus A330-300 landing at London Heathrow Airport with the new paint scheme

Finally, Deutsche Bank unveiled an $850 million financing package for Air Canada, if they would cut $200 million in annual cost cutting in addition to the $1.1 billion that the unions agreed on in 2003. It was accepted after last-minute talks between CEO Robert Milton and CAW president Buzz Hargrove got the union concessions needed to let the bid go through.[9][21][22]

ACE Aviation Holdings became the new parent company under which the reorganized Air Canada was held.[23] However, in November 2012 ACE sold all shares and warrants it held in Air Canada.

In October 2004, Canadian singer Celine Dion became the face of Air Canada, hoping to relaunch the airline and draw in a more international market after an 18-month period of bankruptcy protection.[24] She recorded her single, You and I, which subsequently appeared in several Air Canada commercials.[25]

Fleet modernization

On 31 October 2004, the last Air Canada Boeing 747 flight landed in Toronto from Frankfurt as AC873, ending 33 years of 747 service with the airline. The Boeing 747-400 fleet was replaced by the Airbus A340 fleet.[26] On 19 October 2005 Air Canada unveiled a new aircraft colour scheme and uniforms. A Boeing 767-300ER was painted in the new silver-blue colour, and the dark green/almost black tail was replaced with a new version of the maple leaf known as the 'Frosted Leaf'.[24]

Air Canada's Boeing 777-200LR, the longest-ranged airliner in the world for long-haul flights.

On 9 November 2005, Air Canada agreed to renew their widebody fleet by purchasing 16 Boeing 777s (10 -300ERs, 6 -200LRs), and 14 Boeing 787-8s. They placed options on 18 Boeing 777s and 46 Boeing 787-8s and -9s.[27] All of the 777s will be powered by GE90-115B or GE90-110B1 engines, and the 787-8s, by the GEnx engine.[28] Deliveries of the 777s began in March 2007 and deliveries of the 787s began in May 2014.[29] As the 777s and the 787s are delivered, they will gradually retire all Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s.[30]

Wikinews has related news: Boeing secures $11bn of aircraft deals

On 24 April 2007, Air Canada exercised half of their options for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The firm order for the Dreamliners is now at 37 plus 23 options, for a total of 60. They also cancelled orders for two Boeing 777Fs. In November 2007, Air Canada leased an additional Boeing 777-300ER from ILFC. Air Canada has now taken delivery of the 18 Boeing 777s on order (12 -300ERs, 6 -200LRs) and still holds options for 16 more, totalling 34.[31][32]

Air Canada has also taken delivery of 15 Embraer 175s and 45 Embraer 190s. These aircraft are being used to expand intra-Canada and Canada/USA routes. Air Canada will transfer all 15 Embraer 175s to Sky Regional Airlines to fly them under the Air Canada Express brand. They will also transfer all Airbus A319-100 and Boeing 767-300ER aircraft to Air Canada rouge.

Air Canada has also placed orders for 737 MAX single-aisle narrow body aircraft to replace its existing fleet of Airbus A320 series aircraft with deliveries beginning in 2017. Some Airbus aircraft will be transferred to Rouge while the rest retired. As part of the deal, Boeing agreed to purchase 25 Embraer E190s from Air Canada that are slated to leave the fleet by 2016. In 2016, Air Canada signed an agreement with Bombardier Aerospace to replace the E190s with CSeries aircraft from 2019.[33]

A new red and grey aircraft livery is to be launched in 2017 to coincide with their 80th anniversary and first Boeing 737-8 Max delivery.

Project XM

A personal television on board an Air Canada aircraft (Project XM)

Started in July 2006 and since completed, Project XM: Extreme Makeover, was a $300 million aircraft interior replacement project to install new cabins on all aircraft. New aircraft such as the Boeing 777 were delivered with the new cabins factory installed.[34]

New cabin features included:[35][36][37][38][39]

Financial difficulties

Since the late 2000s (decade), Air Canada has been facing a number of financial difficulties, including the global recession, leading to speculation that they could file for bankruptcy, less than a decade after they exited bankruptcy on 30 September 2004.[40]

Air Canada has 45 Embraer ERJ-190 aircraft

President and CEO Montie Brewer was replaced by Calin Rovinescu effective 1 April 2009.[41] Rovinescu became the first Canadian President since Claude Taylor in 1992. Rovinescu was Air Canada's chief restructuring officer during their 2003 bankruptcy, and he resigned that year after unions rejected his demands, and is reported to be "an enforcer".[42]

Federal finance minister Jim Flaherty appointed retired judge James Farley, who had presided over Air Canada's 2003 bankruptcy, to mediate pension issues between the company and their unions and retirees. The contracts with four of their unions also expired around this time. The airline stated that their $2.85-billion pension shortfall (which grew from $1.2 billion in 2007) was a "liquidity risk" in its first-quarter report, and it required new financing and pension "relief" to conserve cash for 2010 operations. The company was obligated to pay $650-million into the pension fund but it suffered a 2009 Q1 loss of $400-million, so it requested a moratorium on its pension payments in 2009. The unions had insisted on financial guarantees before agreeing on a deal. [43][44] In December 2010, ACE sold 44 million of Air Canada shares,[45] followed by the remaining 31 million shares in November 2012 to Cormark Securities Inc.[46]

In 2013, Air Canada's practice of systematic overbooking was exposed.[47] This much-criticized strategy, in which "the same seat is sold to more than one person," [47] thereby causing ticket-holding passengers to be bumped and left stranded, persuaded the federal government to consider adopting an airline passenger bill of rights.[48]

In November 2014 Air Canada pilots voted by a majority of 84% in favour of a 10-year contract that allows the country’s biggest passenger carrier to use arbitration or mediation to resolve disputes.[49] A year later, the flight attendants also approved a 10-year agreement, apparently by a narrow (unstated) margin, with wage increases, increased job security and improvements to working conditions, according to Michel Cournoyer, the head of CUPE's Air Canada unit.[50]

Corporate affairs


By federal law (Air Canada Act), Air Canada has been obligated to keep their head office in Montreal.[51] Their corporate headquarters is Air Canada Centre[52] (French: Centre Air Canada[53]), also known as La Rondelle ("The Puck" in French),[54] a 7 storey building located on the grounds of Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Saint-Laurent.[55]

In 1975, Air Canada was headquartered at 1 Place Ville-Marie in Montreal.[56] In 1990, the airline moved their headquarters to the airport to cut costs.[57]

Business trends

Air Canada has been loss-making for several years; 2012 was the first year since 2007 that a post-tax profit was achieved.[58] The key trends for the Air Canada group, including Jazz and Air Canada rouge, are (years ending 31 December):

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Turnover (C$m) 10,646 11,082 9,739 10,786 11,612 12,114 12,382 13,272 13,868
Net Profits/Losses after tax (C$m) 429 −1,025 −24 −24 −249 131 10 105 308
Number of employees (average FTE) 23,900 24,200 22,900 23,200 23,700 24,000 24,500 24,400 24,900
Number of passengers (m) 33+ 33+ 30+ 32+ 33.9 34.9 35.8 38.5 41.1
Passenger load factor (%) 80.6 81.4 80.7 81.7 81.6 82.7 82.8 83.4 83.5
Number of aircraft (at year end) 340 333 332 328 331 351 352 364 370
Notes/sources [59] [60] [61] [61][62] [62] [58] [63] [64] [65]


Prior to 1976, Air Canada was led by a department head of the Canadian National Railway, who reported to the President of CNR.

CEO and President:[14]

Cargo loading on an Air Canada Airbus A319-100


Air Canada Cargo

Air Canada Cargo is the company's freight carrying division, offering more than 150 shipping destinations through the Air Canada airline network and airline partners.[67] Their route network has focused on European destinations through their Eastern Canada departure points, along with direct services from Vancouver and Calgary to Frankfurt, Paris, and Zurich.[67]

In Toronto, a new cargo terminal was completed in early 2002 which features modernised inventory and conveyor systems.[68]

Air Canada Vacations

An Air Georgian Beechcraft 1900D (left) in Air Canada Alliance livery at Bradley International Airport

Air Canada Vacations is a Canadian tour operator offering leisure travel packages including cruises, tours, car rentals and excursions. All packages include accommodation, Aeroplan Miles and roundtrip airfare aboard Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners. Repeat recipient of the Consumer’s Choice Award for Best Travel Wholesaler and named Favourite Tour Operator by Baxter Travel Media in 2010, Air Canada Vacations services hundreds of destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, North, Central and South America, Asia, South Pacific and Europe. Air Canada Vacations is headquartered in Montreal, has an office in Toronto, and destination representatives are available throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Asia, South Pacific, and South America.

Air Canada Vacations offers Executive Class service on select flights, nonstop flights from major Canadian cities and daily flights to many destinations.[69][70]

Air Canada Rouge

Main article: Air Canada Rouge

Air Canada Express

Air Canada Express is the brand name of Air Canada's regional feeder service operated by several independent carriers including Jazz Aviation, Sky Regional Airlines, Exploits Valley Air Services (EVAS),[71] and Air Georgian.[72]

Air Canada Jetz

Launched in 2002, Air Canada Jetz is a charter service targeting sports teams, professional entertainers, and corporations. Air Canada Jetz fleet consists of three Airbus A319 in an all business class configuration.[73]

In February 2014, Air Canada decided to leave the sports charter business.[74] However, on 17 March 2014, Air Canada announced an agreement with several NHL teams to provide charter services under the Air Canada Jetz brand for 6 years starting from the 2015-2016 NHL season.[75]

Former subsidiaries

Air Canada Jazz CRJ705 at Regina International Airport

In 2001, Air Canada consolidated their wholly owned regional carriers Air BC, Air Nova, Air Ontario, and Canadian Regional Airlines into Air Canada Regional Incorporated. Several of these air carriers had previously operated as an "Air Canada Connector". In 2002, the consolidation was completed with the creation of a new brand, Air Canada Jazz. Air Canada Jazz was spun off in November 2006. ACE Aviation Holdings is no longer a shareholder of Jazz Aviation LP, making them an independent company. Air Canada Jazz was the brand name of Air Canada's main regional product from 2002-2011. As of June 2011, the Air Canada Jazz brand is no longer being marketed as all regional operators adopted the Air Canada Express name. However, some Air Canada Jazz planes retain the "Jazz" decal and the iconic green/red/orange/yellow maple leaf paint scheme. Jazz Aviation is the largest of these affiliates operating 125 aircraft on behalf of Air Canada.[76]

In 2002, Air Canada launched a discount airline to compete directly with WestJet on routes in Western Canada. Zip operated ex-Canadian Airlines International 737-200s as a separate airline with their own staff and brightly painted aircraft. It was disbanded in 2004.[77]

On 1 November 2001, Air Canada launched Air Canada Tango, designed to offer no-frills service and lower fares using a dedicated fleet of 13 Airbus A320s in an all economy configuration of 159 seats. In Canada, they operated from Toronto to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Gander and St. John's. In addition, they operated non-stop service between Toronto and Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa; as well as non-stop service between Montreal and Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.[78] Tango was intended to compete with Canada 3000.[79] The Tango service was dissolved in 2004. Air Canada now calls their lowest fare class "Tango" (Tango and Flex).[80]

Aeroplan is Air Canada's loyalty marketing program operated by Groupe Aeroplan Inc., which was spun off from Air Canada in 2005.[81]


Air Canada domestic check-in facilities at Vancouver International Airport

Air Canada flies to 21 domestic destinations and 81 international destinations (including British overseas territories, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Overseas departments and territories of France, and United States territories) across Asia, Americas, Europe, and Oceania. Along with its regional partners, the carrier serves over 182 destinations in 47 countries on six continents worldwide.[82][83]

Air Canada has flown a number of fifth freedom routes (passenger and cargo rights between two non-Canadian destinations),[12] only one of which is still operated, namely Santiago-Buenos Aires.[84] Past fifth freedom routes have included: Honolulu-Sydney, London Heathrow-Düsseldorf, Paris-Geneva, Paris-Munich, Paris-Berlin, Frankfurt-Zürich, Zürich-Zagreb, Zürich-Vienna, Zürich-Delhi, Lisbon-Madrid, Brussels-Prague, London Heathrow-Delhi, London Heathrow-Nice, London Heathrow-Bombay-Singapore.[85][86]

Codeshare agreements

Air Canada codeshares with the following airlines:[87]


Current fleet

The Air Canada mainline fleet consists of the following registered aircraft (as of December 3, 2016).[88] All mainline aircraft are fitted with individual video displays in all classes.[37] WiFi is installed on all narrowbody aircraft and will be fitted on widebody aircraft starting Fall 2016. The majority of the widebody aircraft (Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787, Airbus A330) operate from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.[39]

Air Canada fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers[35] Notes
J W Y Total
Airbus A319-100 18 14 106 120 To be replaced by Bombardier CS300[33]
58 58 VIP charter aircraft operated as Air Canada Jetz.[89]
Airbus A320-200 42 14 132 146 To be replaced by Boeing 737 MAX 8
Airbus A321-200 15 16 169 185 To be replaced by Boeing 737 MAX 9
Airbus A330-300 8 27 21 244 292[90]
37 228 265 To be configured with 292 seats by summer 2017.
Boeing 737 MAX 8 33 TBA 18 options, 30 purchase rights.[91]
EIS: 2017
Boeing 737 MAX 9 28 TBA
Boeing 767-300ER 15 24 187 211 Older aircraft to be replaced by Boeing 737 MAX 9 and Boeing 787-9
Boeing 777-200LR 6 40 24 236 300
Boeing 777-300ER 19 40 24 336 400
28 24 398 450
Boeing 787-8 8 20 21 210 251
Boeing 787-9 13 16 30 21 247 298 Deliveries through 2019.[92]
Replacing Boeing 767-300ER

13 options, 10 purchase rights

Bombardier CS300 45 TBA 30 options. Replacing Embraer 190 and Airbus A319[33]
EIS: late 2019
Embraer 190 25 9 88 97 To be replaced by Bombardier CS300[33]
Total 169 122

Historical fleet

Airbus A340-300, retired 2008
Air Canada Boeing 767-200ER, retired 2008
Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER on approach to Frankfurt Airport.
An Airbus A340-500 previously operated by Air Canada until it was replaced by the Boeing 777-200LR.

Air Canada was one of the first airlines to have its entire fleet of unpressurised aircraft equipped with fixed oxygen systems for use by flight crew and passengers, using the rebreathing bag principle.

Aircraft that Air Canada has operated since 1937, but are no longer in the fleet:

Air Canada operated jetliners
Type Used
Douglas DC-8-40 -50 -60 -70 1960-1983[95]
Douglas DC-9-10 1966-1986 [95]
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 1967-2002[95]
Boeing 747-100 1971-1998[95]
Lockheed L-1011 -1 -15 -100 -500 1973-1996[95]
Boeing 727-200 1974-1992[95]
Boeing 747-200M (Combi) 1975-1999[95]
Boeing 737-200 1976-2004[95]
Boeing 767-200ER 1983-2008[95]
Fokker F28 1986-2004[95]
Boeing 747-400 1990-2003[95]
Boeing 747-400M (Combi) 1990-2004[95]
BAe 146-200 1990-2005[95]
Canadair CRJ100 1994-2002
Airbus A340-300 1995-2008[95]
Airbus A340-500 2004-2007[95]
Embraer 175 2005-2013
Air Canada operated propliners
Type Used
Stearman 4-EM Senior Speedmail 1937-1939[95]
Lockheed Model 10 Electra 1937-1941[95]
Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra 1941-1949[95]
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar 1941-1949[95]
Avro Lancastrian 1943-1947[95]
Douglas DC-3 1945-1963[95]
Canadair North Star 1946-1961[95]
Bristol Freighter 1953-1955[95]
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation 1954-1963[95]
Vickers Viscount (turboprop) 1955-1974[95]
Vickers Vanguard (turboprop) 1961-1972[95]

British Aerospace BAe 146-200 and Fokker F28 jet aircraft were operated by regional airline affiliates of Air Canada via code sharing agreements. Air Canada was also the only operator of the Vickers Vanguard propjet in North America.


IFE system on an Air Canada Boeing 787-8
An in-flight meal served in economy class on an Air Canada Boeing 787-8

Air Canada has three classes of service, Business, Premium Economy, and Economy. On long-haul international routes, International Business Class and Economy Class are offered, with certain flights additionally offering Premium Economy Class;[37][39] short-haul and domestic routes feature Business Class and Economy Class.[36][38] All mainline seats feature AVOD (Audio Video On Demand) and mood lighting. Air Canada Express features Business Class and Economy Class, on CRJ705 and Embraer 175 aircraft; all other Air Canada Express aircraft have one-class economy cabins. All narrowbody mainline aircraft, as well as Air Canada Express Bombardier CRJ705 and Embraer 175 aircraft have onboard WiFi installed, which will also be installed on all widebody aircraft starting in Fall 2016.

In the spring of 1987, Air Canada enacted no-smoking flights between Canada and New York City as a test. After a survey reported that 96% of passengers supported the smoking ban, Air Canada extended the ban to other flights.[96]


International Business Class

Air Canada's International Business Class cabins are available on all widebody aircraft. There are two different cabins available: the Executive Pod and the Classic Pod.[39] All services feature AVOD (Audio Video On Demand) on a touch screen, noise cancelling headphones, and music provided by XM Satellite Radio. This cabin is sold as Business Class — Transcontinental when widebody aircraft operate on routes within North America, and is sold at a premium compared to the North American Business Class product on narrowbody aircraft.[97]

Executive Pod

Executive Pods are featured on all Boeing 777s and 787s.[98] These seats feature electronic flat beds in a 121 reverse herringbone configuration with a 21-inch (53.3 cm) seat width and a 6-foot-7-inch (2.01 m) seat pitch.[39] AVOD is provided with an 18-inch (45.7 cm) touch screen.

Classic Pod

Classic Pods feature electronic flat beds, in a 111 herringbone configuration on all Boeing 767-300ER and Airbus A330-300s with a 21-inch (53.3 cm) seat width and a 6-foot-3-inch (1.91 m) seat pitch.[39] AVOD is provided with an 12-inch (30.5 cm) touch screen.[39]

North American Business Class

Within North America, Business Class is Air Canada’s premium product. On Embraer 190 aircraft (mainline) and Embraer 175 and CRJ705 aircraft (Air Canada Express), the seat configuration is 12 abreast, with recline around 120°, and a width of 20 inches (0.51 m).[38] On Airbus narrow-body aircraft, seat configuration is 22 abreast, with 124° recline, and 21 inches (0.53 m) width.[38] Seat pitch is 37 inches (0.94 m) on CRJ705 aircraft and 39 inches (0.99 m) on Embraer and Airbus aircraft. All seats feature AVOD and the new style cabin interiors. Music is provided by XM Satellite Radio.[38]

Premium Economy Class

Premium Economy class is available on all Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 aircraft, and will be fitted on all A330-300 aircraft by summer of 2017.[98] Premium Economy is only available on international flights; on flights within North America, these seats are sold as Preferred Seats in Economy Class.[99]

Premium Economy features a larger seat and greater recline as compared to economy class, in a 242 configuration (Boeing 777) or 232 configuration (Airbus A330 and Boeing 787) with a 20-inch (0.508 m) (Boeing 777) or 19.5-inch (0.495 m) (Boeing 787) seat width and a 37 to 38 inches (0.94 to 0.97 m) seat pitch. Entertainment is personal AVOD (Audio Video On Demand), while music is provided by XM Satellite Radio.[100]

Air Canada Rouge operates flights on its aircraft with a premium economy class product, branded as Premium Rouge. This is sold as a business class product on Rouge flights within North America.

Economy Class

International Economy Class cabin of Air Canada Boeing 787-8 aircraft

In Economy Class, seats are pitched 31 to 34 inches (0.79 to 0.86 m) with a width of 17.2 to 18.5 inches (0.44 to 0.47 m) and a recline to 4.5 to 6 inches (0.11 to 0.15 m).[37] On Air Canada Rouge aircraft, seats are pitched 29 to 30 inches (0.74 to 0.76 m) with a width of 17.5 to 18 inches (0.44 to 0.46 m) and 3 inches (0.076 m) of recline. Configuration is 343 on the Boeing 777, 333 on the Boeing 787, 242 on the Airbus A330, 232 on the Boeing 767, 33 on Airbus narrowbody aircraft, and 22 on Bombardier and Embraer aircraft. All Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer aircraft, as well as the CRJ-705 are fitted with personal AVOD (audio-video on demand). Music is provided by XM Satellite Radio.[37]

Complimentary meals are offered on all international flights outside of North America. For domestic, North American, sun destination and Caribbean flights, food and alcoholic beverages can be purchased through Onboard Café (GuestLogix point of sale terminals are used) while non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary.

On all narrowbody aircraft, there is an extra legroom Preferred Seat section in the front few rows and exit rows of the economy cabin which provides up to 4 inches (0.10 m) more seat pitch (usually at least 35"). All Air Canada Rouge planes offer Rouge Plus seats, which are identical to the Preferred Seats, but with up to 6 inches (0.15 m) more seat pitch(35" on A319's and 36" on 767's) as well as an additional 2 inches (0.051 m) of recline.

Air Canada Express

Air Canada Express flights operated by CRJ200, Dash 8-100/300/Q400 aircraft offer a bar and refreshment service on board. The CRJ705 and E175 features Business Class and personal AVOD at every seat. Flights on board the E175, CRJ200/705 and Q400 which are 90 minutes or more feature Onboard Café.

Cabin crew

Air Canada has made a change in uniform by changing the dark green for a midnight blue colour. The uniforms were designed by Canadian fashion designer Debbie Shuchat. At a presentation in the Toronto Pearson International Airport hangar, Celine Dion helped the newly solvent airline debut its new image.[24]


Air Canada Arrivals Lounge at London's Heathrow Airport Terminal 3

Air Canada has 21 Maple Leaf Lounges[101] located at all major airports across Canada and at international locations including London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Los Angeles and New York-LaGuardia.[102] The Maple Leaf Lounges are available to passengers holding a same day ticket on Air Canada in Business Class, Star Alliance Gold Members, Air Canada Super Elite, Air Canada Elite, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members, American Express Maple Leaf Club members, American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum holders, holders of a one time guest pass or economy passengers who have purchased lounge access during booking.[103]

Air Canada shares an Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 2 with some other Star Alliance members. It is available to eligible passengers arriving into London from any Air Canada international flight, holding a confirmed same-day overseas travel boarding card. Eligible groups include Business Class Passengers, Air Canada Super Elite, Air Canada Elite, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Members or American Express Maple Leaf Club.[104]

Travellers who hold paid memberships to affiliated Star Alliance lounges, such as the United Club, are also eligible for access to most Maple Leaf Lounges. [105]

U.S. business traveller international stopover strategy

Air Canada has started to pursue American-based business travellers from departure airports which do not have direct connections to Europe and abroad, and use Canadian airports like Montreal, Toronto-Pearson and Vancouver to make their connection through Canada.

Frequent flyer program


Main article: Aeroplan

Aeroplan is Air Canada's frequent flyer program. Miles are awarded to members and can be redeemed for rewards on airline tickets (primarily Star Alliance), reservations at hotel chains and car rental agencies, or for merchandise or charitable donations.

Air Canada Altitude

On 20 September 2012, Air Canada unveiled its new frequent flyer status program named "Air Canada Altitude" to supplement Aeroplan. Aeroplan is still the frequent flyer program, however, status is determined by Altitude standing. There are five membership tiers: Altitude Prestige 25K (25,000 Status Miles or 25 Status Segments), Altitude Elite 35K (35,000 Status Miles or 35 Status Segments), Altitude Elite 50K (50,000 Status Miles or 50 Status Segments), Altitude Elite 75K (75,000 Status Miles or 75 Status Segments), and Altitude Super Elite 100K (100,000 Status Miles or 95 Status Segments). Qualified Altitude Prestige 25K and Altitude Elite 35K are entitled to Star Alliance Silver Status, while members of the other three tiers are entitled to Star Alliance Gold Status.

Incidents and accidents

For incidents before 1963, see Trans-Canada Air Lines.
Date Flight number Description
13 June 1964
Vickers Viscount, Fin 638 CF-THT was damaged beyond economical repair when it crash-landed at Toronto after the failure of two engines on approach.[106]
19 May 1967
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-54F, Fin 813 CF-TJM crashed and burned on a training flight while making a three-engine landing at Ottawa, Ontario. All 3 crew members were killed. There were no passengers on the flight.[107]
11 September 1968
A Vickers Viscount of Air Canada was hijacked by a Cuban passenger.[108]
7 September 1969
Vickers Viscount, Fin 629 CF-THK was damaged beyond economic repair by a fire which occurred on takeoff from Sept-Îles Airport. The aircraft landed back at Sept-Îles, but one passenger was killed in the fire.[109]
1 March 1970
Vickers Viscount, Fin 643 CF-THY collided in mid-air with Ercoupe 415 CF-SHN on approach to Vancouver International Airport. The Ercoupe pilot was killed.[110]
5 July 1970
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63, Fin 878 CF-TIW 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.[111]
26 December 1971
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Flight departed Thunder Bay, Ontario for Toronto, Ontario. Hijacker Patric Dolan Critton passed a note 20 minutes before landing that read: "Think. We have fragmentary grenades, and a .38 caliber revolver. Take me to the captain. We're going to Havana. This is no joke." The hijacker permitted the 82 passengers on board to get off the plane before the flight was rerouted to Cuba. After leaving the hijacker in Havana, the Air Canada aircraft safely returned to Toronto. Citton was arrested in New York on other charges in 2001 and, after serving his sentence, was extradited to Canada where he was charged with kidnapping. In 1971 there was no offense of hijacking in the Canadian Criminal Code. He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released on parole after serving two years.[112][113]
21 June 1973
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-53, Fin 822 CF-TIJ caught fire and was burnt out during refueling at Terminal 2, Toronto, Ontario; no fatalities.[114]
26 June 1978
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Fin 721 CF-TLV overran the runway in Toronto after a blown tire aborted the takeoff. Two of the 107 people on-board were killed.[115]
17 September 1979
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Fin 720 C-FTLU approximately 14 minutes after flight 680 left Logan International Airport in Boston, MA for Yarmouth, NS, the entire tailcone section of the plane separated resulting in rapid decompression at an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,600 m), leaving a large hole in the rear of the aircraft. A beverage cart and other items in the cabin were sucked out of the plane over the Atlantic Ocean, but there were no fatalities or significant injuries. The plane safely returned to Boston. Fatigue cracks were determined to be the cause. This same aircraft would be destroyed by a fire nearly four years later on 2 June 1983 as Air Canada Flight 797[116][117]
2 June 1982
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Fin 724 C-FTLY exploded during a maintenance period in Montreal, Quebec; no fatalities.[118]
2 June 1983
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Fin 720 C-FTLU had an electrical fire in the aft lavatory during flight, resulting in an emergency landing at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. During emergency exiting, the sudden influx of oxygen caused a flash fire throughout the cabin, resulting in the deaths of 23 of the 41 passengers, including Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers. All five crew members survived. The captain was the last person to exit the plane. It was later made into a TV movie.[119] This incident was also featured as "Fire Flight" of Canadian television series Mayday (TV series) season 4 episode 3 (known as "Fiery Landing" of Air Emergency in the USA, Air Crash Investigation in the UK and Australia). This is Air Canada's most recent fatal accident.
23 July 1983
Boeing 767-233, Fin 604 C-GAUN glided to an emergency landing in Gimli after running out of fuel 12,300 metres (40,400 ft) above Red Lake, Ontario. Some people suffered minor injuries during the evacuation due to the steep angle of the escape chute at the rear of the plane; caused by the collapsed nose at the front. This incident was the subject of the TV movie, Falling from the Sky: Flight 174, starring William Devane, and the book, Freefall, by William Hoffer.[120] This incident was also featured on the National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel series Mayday (TV series) season 5 episode 6. This flight is generally known as the Gimli Glider.
16 December 1997
Air Canada Flight 646, Fin 109 C-FSKI, departed Toronto-Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario, at 2124 eastern standard time on a scheduled flight to Fredericton, New Brunswick. On arrival, the Canadair CRJ-100 aircraft experienced an unstabilized approach in poor visibility and stalled aerodynamically during a late go-around attempt. The aircraft skidded 2100 feet from the point of touch down and hit a tree. An evacuation was conducted; however, seven passengers were trapped in the aircraft until rescued. Of the 39 passengers and 3 crew members, 9 were seriously injured and the rest received minor or no injuries. The accident occurred at 2348 Atlantic standard time.[121] Air Canada was heavily criticized in the media for allegedly entering the crash site and removing the aircraft decals identifying its operator without the permission of the authorities.
10 January 2008
Air Canada Flight 190 was a scheduled flight from Victoria International Airport to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Whilst cruising over the Rocky Mountains, the Airbus 319 operating the flight lost attitude control and significant height in a short moment. The flight made an emergency landing at Calgary International Airport. Of the 83 passengers and 5 crew on board, 10 people were hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries and most were subsequently released later on that day.[122] All passengers were later accommodated on other flights to continue their journey to Toronto. A likely cause of the incident was due to wake turbulence.[123]
28 May 2012
Air Canada Flight 1 was a scheduled flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Narita Airport, Tokyo. On the 28th of May, the Boeing 777-300ER (C-FITW, fin 733) operating the flight emitted a loud bang from the right engine after take off. The engine cowling and several other parts of the GE90 fell into the city of Toronto smashing the windscreen of 2 cars but causing no injuries. The aircraft declared an emergency and spent one hour dumping fuel and preparing for an emergency landing at Toronto. The aircraft successfully made an emergency landing and was towed towards a terminal where the passengers disembarked. The right hand engine was removed from the aircraft and the plane was temporarily stored for 5 days as a replacement engine was brought in[124]
29 March 2015
Air Canada Flight 624 was Airbus A320 C-FTJP flying from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Halifax Stanfield International Airport. After 15 minutes in a holding pattern due to a severe winter storm and poor visibility, during approach in Halifax, the plane impacted the runway approach lights and power lines knocking out power and communications at the airport. It then impacted the ground 300m short of the runway, continuing on to impact the localizer antenna array, and breaking off its landing gear. The plane then touched down a second time and slid down the runway, losing one of its engines. All 133 passengers and 5 crew evacuated and survived. 23 people were sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.[125][126][127] The aircraft was written off.[128]

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Further reading

External links

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