Air Canada

Air Canada
Air Canada
Founded 11 April 1936 (1936-04-11)
(as Trans-Canada Airlines)[1]
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Aeroplan
Airport lounge Maple Leaf Lounge
Alliance Star Alliance
  • Air Canada Cargo (operating division)
  • Air Canada Jetz (operating division)
  • Air Canada Vacations
Fleet size 205 (+37 orders and 91 options) [2]
Destinations 104 (excl. subsidiaries)
Company slogan GO FAR
Headquarters Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Key people

Air Canada (TSXAC.AAC.B) is the flag carrier and largest airline of Canada'. The airline, founded in 1936, provides scheduled and charter air transport for passengers and cargo to 178 destinations worldwide. It is the world's tenth largest passenger airline by number of destinations, and the airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, an alliance of 26 member airlines formed in 1997.[4] Air Canada's corporate headquarters are located in Montreal, Quebec,[5] while its largest hub is Toronto Pearson International Airport, located in Mississauga, Ontario. Air Canada had passenger revenues of CA$9.7 billion in 2008.[6] 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 its first transcontinental flight routes in 1938. In 1965, TCA was renamed Air Canada following government approval. Following the 1980s deregulation of the Canadian airline market, the airline was privatized in 1988. In 2001, Air Canada acquired its largest rival, Canadian Airlines. In 2003, the airline filed for bankruptcy protection and, 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 its 70th anniversary.

Air Canada operates a fleet of Airbus A330, Boeing 767, and Boeing 777 wide-body jetliners on long-haul routes, and uses Airbus A320 family aircraft, including the A319, A320, and A321 variations and Embraer E170/E190 family aircraft on short-haul routes. The carrier's operating divisions include Air Canada Cargo and Air Canada Jetz. Its subsidiary, Air Canada Vacations, provides vacation packages to over 90 destinations. Together with its regional partners, the airline operates on average more than 1,370 scheduled flights daily.[7]



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 legislation of the federal government 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 the Pacific coast. Using $5 million in government seed money, two Lockheed Model 10 Electras and one Boeing Stearman biplane were purchased from Canadian Airways.[8] Experienced airline executives from United Airlines and American Airlines were brought in.[1]

Passenger operations began on 1 September 1937, with an Electra carrying two passengers and mail from Vancouver to Seattle, a $14.20 round trip.[1] On 1 July 1938, TCA hired its first flight attendants.[9] Transcontinental routes from Montreal to Vancouver began on 1 April 1939, using 12 Lockheed Model 14 Super Electras and six Lockheed Model 18 Lodestars.[8] By January 1940 the airline had grown to about 500 employees.[9]

Trans-Canada Air Lines Lockheed 14H2 in 1938

In 1942, Canadian Pacific Airlines suggested merging with TCA. Prime Minister 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 the 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.[10][11]

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. This bill failed, but it was later resubmitted and passed, with the name change taking effect on 1 January 1965.[8]

1970s: early years

1 Place Ville-Marie, which previously housed Air Canada's headquarters

During the 1970s, Air Canada operated with government regulations ensuring its dominance over domestic regional carriers and rival CP Air.[12] Short-haul carriers were restricted to one of five regions where they could operate, and could not compete directly with Air Canada and CP Air.[12] CP Air itself 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.[12]

In the late 1970s, with reorganization at CNR, Air Canada became an independent Crown corporation. Passage of 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.[12] The act also transferred ownership of the carrier 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.[13] The carrier's fleet expansion saw the acquisition of Boeing 727, Boeing 747, and Lockheed Tristar jetliners.[11]

Air Canada Boeing 747-200 in 1964-1990s livery

With new fleet expenditures outpacing earnings, Air Canada officials indicated that the carrier would need additional sources of capital to fund its modernisation.[12] By 1985, the Canadian government was indicating a willingness to privatise both Canadian National Railways and Air Canada.[12] In 1988 Air Canada was privatised, and 43% of its shares are sold on the public market,[8] with the initial public offering completed in October of that year.[12] By this time, its long-haul rival CP Air had become Canadian Airlines International following its acquisition by Pacific Western Airlines.[11]

On 7 December 1987, Air Canada became the first airline in the world to have a fleet-wide non-smoking policy,[14] and in 1989 became completely privatised.[8] 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.[12]

1990s: strategic changes

1994-2004 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.[11] In response the airline restructured its management, 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,[11] and sold the enRoute card business to Diners Club in 1992.[15] By 1994, Air Canada had returned to profitability.[11] The same year also saw the carrier winning route access to fly from Canada to the new Kansai Airport in Osaka, Japan.[11]

In 1995, taking advantage of a new U.S.-Canada open skies agreement, Air Canada added 30 new transborder routes.[11] In May 1997, Air Canada became a founding member of the Star Alliance, with the airline launching code-shares 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.[11]

On 2 September 1998 pilots for Air Canada launched the company's first pilots' strike,[16] demanding higher wages.[12] 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 launched a takeover bid of ailing rival Canadian Airlines, spurring Air Canada to submit a competing offer for its largest rival.[11]

2000s: merger and reorganization

In January 2001 Air Canada acquired Canada's second largest air carrier, Canadian Airlines, merging the latter's operations into its own. As a result, Air Canada became the world's twelfth-largest commercial airline in the first decade of the 21st century.[8] However, as Air Canada gained access to its former rival's financial statements, officials learned that the carrier was in worse financial shape than previously thought.[12] An expedited merger strategy was pursued, but in summer 2000 the integration efforts led to flight delays, luggage problems, and other frustrations.[12] However, service improved following Air Canada officials pledge to do so by January 2001.[12] Following the difficult merger, the airline was confronted by the global aviation market downturn, and the challenge of increased competition, posting back-to-back losses in 2001 and 2002.[12]

Bankruptcy and restructuring

On 1 April 2003, Air Canada filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act; it emerged from this protection on 30 September 2004, 18 months later.[17] 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, himself the former vice president of the United States. Cerberus was rejected because it 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.[18]

Finally, Deutsche Bank unveiled an $850-million financing package for Air Canada, if it 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.[8][19][20]

ACE Aviation Holdings became the new parent company under which the reorganised Air Canada was held.[21] 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 eighteen month period of bankruptcy protection.[22] She recorded her single, You and I, which subsequently appeared in several Air Canada commercials.[23]

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.[24] 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 green tail was replaced with a new version of the maple leaf known as the 'Frosted Leaf.'[25]

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

On 9 November 2005, Air Canada entered into an agreement to renew its widebody fleet with Boeing by purchasing 18 Boeing 777s (10 -300ERs, 6 -200LRs, 2 777 Freighters), and 14 Boeing 787-8s. It also placed options to purchase an additional 18 Boeing 777s and 46 Boeing 787-8s and -9s.[26] All of the 777s will be powered by the GE90-115B engine, and the 787-8s, by the GEnx engine.[27] Deliveries of the 777s began in March 2007 and deliveries of the 787s are to begin in the second half of 2013. As the 777s are delivered, and as the 787s are delivered, it will gradually retire all Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s.[28]

On 24 April 2007, Air Canada announced that it has exercised half of its options for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The firm order for the Dreamliners is now at 37 plus 13 options, for a total of 50. This makes Air Canada the largest customer of the Dreamliner in North America and the third largest in the world (behind Qantas and All Nippon Airways). It also announced that it has cancelled orders for two Boeing 777Fs. In November 2007, Air Canada announced that it will lease 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, totaling 34.[29][30]

Air Canada has 45 Embraer ERJ-190 aircraft

Air Canada has also taken delivery of 15 Embraer 175s and 45 Embraer 190s. It holds options on an additional 60 Embraer 190s.[31] These aircraft are being used to expand its intra-Canada and Canada/USA routes. Additionally, some of the Embraer 190s will replace older A319/A320s.

Project XM

Started in July 2006, and now completed, Project XM: Extreme Makeover, is a $300-million aircraft interior replacement project to install new cabins on all aircraft. New aircraft such as the Boeing 777 are being delivered with the new cabins factory installed.[32]

A PTV on board an Air Canada aircraft (Project XM)

New cabin features include:[2][33][34][35][36]

  • In Executive First, new horizontal fully flat Executive First Suites (on Boeing 767s, Boeing 777s and A330s).
  • New cabins in all classes on all aircraft, with new entertainment options.
  • Personal AVOD (8.9 in/230 mm touch-screen LCD) in Economy class (domestic and international) and Executive Class (domestic).
  • Larger AVOD (12 in/300 mm touch-screen LCD) equipped with noise-cancelling Sennheiser headphones available in Executive First Suites.
  • Interactive games at all seats in Executive and Economy; XM Radio Canada available at every seat.
  • USB ports to recharge electronic devices and for game controllers; 120 Volt AC plugs in most seats, in both classes.

Financial difficulties

Since the late 2000s, Air Canada has been facing a number of financial difficulties, including the global recession, leading to speculation that it could file for bankruptcy, just several years after it exited bankruptcy on 30 September 2004.[37]

President and CEO Montie Brewer was replaced by Calin Rovinescu effective 1 April 2009.[38] Rovinescu became the first Canadian President since Claude Taylor in 1992. Rovinescu was Air Canada's chief restructuring officer during its 2003 bankruptcy, and he resigned that year after unions rejected his demands, and is reported to be "an enforcer".[39]

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 its unions and retirees. The contracts with four of its unions also expired around this time. The airline stated that its $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. [40][41]

Corporate affairs and identity


Air Canada 777-300ER overflies Air Canada Centre, the company's headquarters in Saint-Laurent, Montreal

Air Canada Centre[42] (French: Centre Air Canada[43]) also known as La Rondelle ("The Puck" in French),[44] is a 7 storey building that serves as the corporate headquarters of Air Canada, located on the grounds of Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and in Saint-Laurent, Montreal,[42][45] near Dorval.[46]

In 1994 David Israelson of the Toronto Star described the facility as "ultra modern."[44] In 1990 the airline announced that it was moving its headquarters from Downtown Montreal to the airport to cut costs.[47] In 2004 the company said that it has no plans to move its headquarters back to Downtown Montreal.[48]

In 1975 Air Canada was headquartered at 1 Place Ville-Marie in Montreal.[49]


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:[12]

  • 1976–1984: Claude Taylor - accountant; former Air Canada reservation agent and executive
  • 1984–1990: Pierre Jeanniot - former aircraft mechanic and Air Canada executive; founder of Jinmag Management and Investment Services
  • 1990–1992: Claude Taylor
  • 1992–1996: Hollis L. Harris (World Airways CEO 2001-2004, Continental CEO and President, 1990–1992, President of Delta Air Lines)
  • 1996–1999: R. Lamar Durrett (former executive with Delta, Continental and System One)
  • 1999–2004: Robert Milton (founding partner of Air Eagle Holdings Incorporated)
  • 2004–2009: Montie Brewer (former United Airlines executive)
  • 2009–present: Calin Rovinescu[50]
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.[51] Its route network has focused on European destinations through its Eastern Canada departure points, along with direct services from Vancouver and Calgary to Frankfurt, Paris, and Zurich.[51]

In Toronto, a new cargo terminal was completed in early 2002 which features modernised inventory and conveyor systems.[52]

Aveos Fleet Performance Inc.

Formerly Air Canada Technical Services/ACTS (Aero Technical Support & Services Inc.), Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. is a full-service Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organisation that provides airframe, engine and component maintenance and various ancillary services to more than 100 customers. Major bases are in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.[53]

As of December 2009, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. owns 27 percent of Air Canada and holds a 27.8 percent stake in Aveos, after selling its remaining stake in 2007 to private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. and Sageview Capital for $723 million.[54] On 23 September 2008, ACTS, formerly Air Canada Technical Services/ACTS, changed its name to Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. to reflect its new ownership structure. In February 2011 the CIRB ruled that Aveos and Air Canada are separate companies and gave ultimatums to the seconded Air Canada employees working at Aveos. Air Canada remains its only customer for Aircraft overhaul as jet Blue and America West have been sent to El Salvador to be repaired by Aeroman.[55]

Air Canada Vacations

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

Air Canada Vacations, a subsidiary of Air Canada, is a Canadian tour operator offering a full collection of 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 benefits from unique access to Air Canada’s extensive network, offering connecting flights from 65 Canadian cities, on-demand seat-back entertainment from gate to gate on most flights, web and mobile check-in and Aeroplan® Miles.

Air Canada Vacations was the first Canadian tour operator in 2011 to launch a mobile application for BlackBerry and Apple devices.

Air Canada Vacations partners with the world’s most recognized hoteliers and cruise lines worldwide, including Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Barceló Hotels and Resorts, Couples Resorts, Occidental Hotels & Resorts, Palace Resorts, Sol Meliá, SuperClubs, Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, Walt Disney World Resorts, Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Costa Cruises.

Air Canada Vacations' customers benefit from guest services made exclusively available to Air Canada Vacations under the Privileges added-value program. In conjunction with Aeroplan®, Air Canada Vacations offers Aeroplan® Miles on all air-inclusive packages and offers bonus Aeroplan® miles on select packages year-round. Aeroplan® Miles may also be redeemed toward the purchase of Air Canada Vacations’ packages.

Air Canada Vacations is headquartered in Montreal and has an office in Toronto.

As part of their customer care network, a wide network of 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, non-stop flights from major Canadian cities and daily flights to many destinations.


Air Canada Express

Air Canada Express is the brand name of Air Canada's regional operation. Regional flights are operated for Air Canada by the following carriers: Jazz Aviation, Sky Regional Airlines, Exploits Valley Air Services (EVAS),[58] Air Georgian, and Central Mountain Air.[59]

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 5 A320 & 1 A319 aircraft in an all business class configuration.[60]

Former subsidiaries

In 2001, Air Canada consolidated its wholly owned regional carriers Air BC, Air Nova, Air Ontario and Canadian Regional Airlines into Air Canada Regional Incorporated. In 2002 the consolidation was completed with the creation of a new brand-Air Canada Jazz . Air Canada Jazz was spun off starting in November 2006. ACE Aviation Holdings is no longer a shareholder of Jazz Aviation LP, making it 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. Jazz Aviation is the largest of these affiliates operating 125 aircraft on behalf of Air Canada.[61]

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 its own staff and brightly painted aircraft. It also was disbanded in 2004.[62]

Air Canada Jazz CRJ705 at Regina International Airport

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, it operated from Toronto to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Regina/Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. In addition, it 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.[63] Tango was intended to compete with Canada 3000.[64] The Tango service was dissolved in 2004. Air Canada now calls its lowest fare class "Tango" (Tango and Tango Plus).[65]

Aeroplan is Air Canada's loyalty marketing program operated by Groupe Aeroplan Inc., which was spun off from Air Canada in 2005.[66]


Air Canada domestic check-in facilities at Vancouver International Airport

Air Canada flies to 15 domestic destinations and 81 international destinations in 33 countries (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 171 destinations in 39 countries worldwide.[67]

Air Canada has flown a number of fifth freedom routes (passenger and cargo rights between two non-Canadian destinations),[11] only one of which is still operated, namely Santiago-Buenos Aires.[68] 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.[69][70]

Codeshare agreements

Air Canada has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[71]

Notes: * indicates Star Alliance partners; Air Canada is one of the founding members of Star Alliance.


The Air Canada fleet consists of 204 aircraft, as of 24 November 2010.[2] All aircraft are now fitted with the new interior, except three Boeing 767-300ERs which serve select seasonal all-economy class routes from Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton to Honolulu, Maui, Cancun, Varadero, and Montego Bay (winter) and Montreal and Toronto to Athens, Barcelona, and Dublin (summer) and two all-economy class A319-100s which returned from lease from now bankrupt Mexicana (which serve select winter routes from Quebec City to Varadero). The new interior is a revamp of the cabin and the installation of individual video displays in both Executive First and Economy classes.[34][36]

Air Canada Fleet[2]
Aircraft Total Orders Passengers Notes
J Y Total
Airbus A319-100 36 14 106 120 C-FZUH painted in Trans-Canada Air Lines livery
2 0 132 132 Non-XM'd cabins
Airbus A320-200 41 14 132 146
Airbus A321-200 10 20 154 174
Airbus A330-300 8 37 228 265 C-GHLM painted in Star Alliance livery
Boeing 767-300ER 27 25
C-FMWY painted in Star Alliance livery
3 24 223 247 Non-XM'd Cabins
Boeing 777-200LR 6 42 228 270
Boeing 777-300ER 12 307 349
Boeing 787-8 37 TBA 23 options; Entry into service: 2014[73]
Embraer 175 15 9 64 73
Embraer 190 45 84 93
Total 205[2] 37 23 options
  • Air Canada has an average fleet age of 10.5 years, as of 30 June 2010.[74] The Boeing customer code for Air Canada is 33 (i.e. 777-333).

Historic fleet

Airbus A340-300, retired 2008
Air Canada Boeing 767-200ER, retired 2008
Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER landing in Montreal.
Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER landing in Frankfurt Airport.

In 1963, Air Canada claimed to be the first major air carrier to have adopted turbine technology on its entire fleet for lower maintenance costs and higher productivity. It also claimed to be the first world airline to introduce jet freighter service using DC-8 equipment.[14][75]

Air Canada was also 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.

The following are lists of aircraft that Air Canada has operated since 1937, and are now no longer in the fleet:

Air Canada Operated Jetliners
Type Used
Airbus A340-300 1995-2008[79]
Airbus A340-500 2004-2007[80]
BAe 146-200 1990-2005[79]
Boeing 727-200 1974-1992[79]
Boeing 737-200 1976-2004[79]
Boeing 747-100 1971-1999[79]
Boeing 747-200M(Combi) 1975-2002[79]
Boeing 747-400 1990-2005[79]
Boeing 747-400M(Combi) 1990-2004[79]
Boeing 767-200ER 1983-2008[79]
Douglas DC-8-40 -50 -60 -70 1960-1983[79]
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 1966-2002[79]
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 2001-2002[79]
Fokker F28 1986-2004[79]
Lockheed L-1011 -1 -15 -100 -500 1973-1996[79]
Air Canada Operated Propliners
Type Used
Avro Lancastrian 1943-1947[79]
Bristol Freighter 1953-1955[79]
Canadair North Star 1946-1961[79]
Douglas DC-3 1945-1963[79]
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation 1954-1963[79]
Lockheed Model 10 Electra 1937-1941[79]
Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra 1941-1949[79]
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar 1941-1949[79]
Stearman 1937-1939[79]
Vickers Vanguard 1961-1972[79]
Vickers Viscount 1955-1974[79]


Executive First Suites on the 767 (Project XM)

Air Canada has two classes of service, both business and economy, on most aircraft. On long-haul international routes, Executive First and Economy Class is offered;[34][36] short-haul and domestic routes feature Executive Class and Economy Class.[33][35] Air Canada Express features Executive Class and Economy Class, on CRJ705 aircraft; all other Air Canada Express aircraft have one-class economy cabins.


Executive First (International Business Class)

Executive First is Air Canada’s international business class product, updated during the carrier's Project XM upgrade.[36] These cabins are available on all widebody aircraft with the exception of three Boeing 767-300ER aircraft (which feature a North American Executive Class cabin).[36]

Executive First in-flight meal.

Executive First Suites feature electronic flat beds, in a 1–1–1 (Boeing 767-300ER and A330-300s) or 1–2–1 (Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR) herringbone configuration with a 21-inch (0.533 m) seat width and a 6-foot-3-inch (1.91 m) seat pitch.[36] The configuration is similar in layout to Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class Suite and Air New Zealand's Business Premier Class product. Entertainment is personal AVOD (Audio Video On Demand), while music is provided by XM Satellite Radio. Self-service bar areas and mood lighting are available on all Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.[36]

The prior Executive First cabin featured electronic recliner seats reclining to 151°, with a width of 21 inches (0.53 m) and a pitch of 57 to 60 inches (1.4 to 1.5 m). Seat configuration was 1–2–2 or 2–2–1 seating on the 767-300ER aircraft, depending on tail fin. The Airbus widebodies featured a 2–2–2 seating configuration. Entertainment provided was personal DVD player or in-seat AVOD depending on aircraft type.[36]

International Economy Class

Economy Class cabin on the 777 (Project XM)

In international Economy Class, seats are pitched 31 inches (0.79 m) to 34 inches (0.86 m) with a width of 17.2 inches (0.44 m) to 18.5 inches (0.47 m) and a recline to around 6 inches (0.15 m).[34] On all Project XM fitted aircraft, entertainment is personal AVOD (audio-video on demand). Configuration is 3–3–3 on the Boeing 777, 2–4–2 on the A330, and 2–3–2 on the Boeing 767. On Economy Class (original) aircraft, main screen entertainment is offered. Music on both types is provided by XM Satellite Radio.[34]

North American Executive Class

Within North America, Executive Class is Air Canada’s premium product. On Embraer 175/190 aircraft and CRJ705 aircraft (Air Canada Express), seat configuration is 1–2 abreast, with recline around 120°, and a width of 20 inches (0.51 m).[35] On Airbus narrow-body aircraft, seat configuration is 2–2 abreast, with 124° recline, and 21 inches (0.53 m) width.[35] Seat pitch is 37 inches (0.94 m) on Canadair-705 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.[35]

Dinner in international Economy Class

North American Economy Class

Economy seating for domestic, North American, sun destination and caribbean flights is 3–3 abreast on Airbus aircraft and 2–2 on Embraer aircraft, with a pitch between 30 inches (0.76 m) and 32 inches (0.81 m) on Airbus aircraft.[33] For these flights food and alcoholic beverages can be purchased through Onboard Café while non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary. GuestLogix point of sale terminals are used.

Air Canada regional flights

Air Canada Express flights operated by CRJ100/200, Dash 8-100/300/400 aircraft offer a bar and refreshment service on board. The CRJ705 features Executive Class and personal AVOD at every seat. Flights on board the CRJ100/200/705 and Q400 which are two hours 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.[81]


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

Maple Leaf Lounges are available to passengers holding a same day ticket on Air Canada in Executive Class, Star Alliance Gold Members, Air Canada Super Elite, Air Canada Elite, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members, American Express Maple Leaf Club members, CIBC Maple Leaf Club card holders, American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum holders, holders of a one time guest pass or economy passengers who have purchased lounge access during booking.

The Air Canada London Heathrow Arrivals Lounge is available to eligible members arriving into London from any Air Canada international flight, holding a confirmed same-day overseas travel boarding card. Eligible groups include Executive Class Passengers, Air Canada Super Elite, Air Canada Elite, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Members, American Express Maple Leaf Club, CIBC Maple Leaf Club or those holding a one-time guest pass.

U.S. business traveler international stopover strategy

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


Aeroplan is Air Canada's frequent flier 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. Beginning 1 January 2007, Aeroplan miles expire after 7 years, unless the member is a minor (under 18 years of age) or has Top Tier status (Prestige, Elite or SuperElite). Accumulated miles also expire if an account does not show any activity (earning or redemption) for one full year (members can resuscitate their points but will have to pay a charge)[citation needed].

Air Canada's Affiliates

Currently almost any travel agency can sell flights on Air Canada.

Incidents and accidents

For incidents before 1963, please see Trans-Canada Air Lines.

Date Flight number Information
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.[82]
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.[83]
11 September 1968 A Vickers Viscount of Air Canada was reported to have been hijacked by a Cuban passenger.[84]
7 September 1969 Vickers Viscount, Fin 629 CF-THK was damaged beyond economic repair by a fire which occurred on take-off from Sept-Iles. The aircraft landed back at Sept-Îles but one passenger was killed in the fire.[85]
1 March 1970 Vickers Viscount, Fin 643 CF-THY of collided in mid-air with Ercoupe 415 CF-SHN on approach to Vancouver International Airport. The Ercoupe pilot was killed.[86]
5 July 1970 Flight 621 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.[87]
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.[88]
26 June 1978 Flight 189 McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Fin 721 CF-TLV overran the runway in Toronto after a blown tire aborted the takeoff. Two of 107 people on board were killed.[89]
17 September 1979 Flight 680 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 fire nearly four years later on June 2, 1983 as Air Canada Flight 797[90][91]
2 June 1982 McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Fin 724 C-FTLY exploded during a maintenance period in Montreal, Quebec; no fatalities.[92]
2 June 1983 Flight 797 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 get out of the plane. It was later made into a TV movie.[93] This is Air Canada's most recent fatal accident.
23 July 1983 Flight 143 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.[94] This incident was also featured on the Discovery Channel series Mayday (TV series) season 5 episode 6. This flight is specially known for the Gimli Glider.
28 March 1989 Air Canada Cargo McDonnell Douglas DC-8-73CF flight from Toronto to Vancouver with stops in Winnipeg and Edmonton slammed down hard onto the runway during landing in Edmonton resulting in the plane leaving the runway for more than 900 feet (270 m) on the frozen ground and damaging both outboard engines. Icing on the right wing was blamed for the incident. There were no fatalities, but the CASB felt a disaster was averted due to the plane stalling just above the runway, and because the ground hadn't yet thawed. One CASB official was quoted as saying "Ten seconds earlier or three weeks later and we'd be picking up bits and pieces".[95]
16 December 1997 Flight 646 Air Canada Bombardier CRJ-100ER, Fin 109 C-FSKI went off the end of the runway upon landing in Fredericton, New Brunswick. There were no fatalities.[96]
10 January 2008 Flight 190 Air Canada Flight 190, an Airbus 319, Fin 279 C-GBHZ heading from Victoria to Toronto, plunged from 36,900 to 35,500 feet (11,200 to 10,800 m) for approximately 15 seconds, until the pilots were able to regain control and fly the plane manually. The plane made an emergency landing in Calgary. Two crew members and eight passengers were admitted to hospital but released the same day. The final report concluded that flight 190 encountered wake turbulence produced by a Boeing 747 on the same route of flight just ahead of flight 190. Although minimum safety distance was observed, the turbulence, along with extreme rudder and sidestick input from the pilot, led to high g loads and the consequent movement of objects and people on the plane.[97][98]
24 April 2009 Flight 034 Air Canada Flight AC34, a Boeing 777-200LR, registered as C-FIUJ Fin 703, flying from Sydney to Vancouver, encountered severe turbulence related to storm activity one hour northeast of Honolulu. The normally direct flight was forced to return back to an unscheduled stop in Honolulu where the injured passengers and crew were treated. While initial reports said that up to 22 people suffered injuries during the turbulence, the official press release from Air Canada[99] reported nine passengers and two crew were injured while an additional two crew and two passengers remained in hospital in Honolulu. After 2 hours in Honolulu the flight continued on to Vancouver, arriving before 12:00 local time instead of the scheduled 07:30. Unconfirmed reports from passengers on the ground after landing say the turbulence lasted up to 10 minutes with little or no warning before the event.[100][101]

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External links

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