With heavy involvement from Clarence D. Howe ( 1886 - 1960 ), first Minister of Transport in the William L. Mackenzie King ( 1874 - 1950 ) cabinet, Trans - Canada Air Lines ( T.C.A. ) was created on April 10th, 1937, by the Crown Corporation Canadian National Railway ( C.N.R. ). Using $5 million in Crown seed money, two Lockheed Model 10 Electras and one Boeing Stearman biplane were purchased from Canadian Airways and experienced airline executives from United Airlines and American Airlines were brought in. The company launched its first flight the same year, on September 1st, on a flight between Vancouver ( British Columbia, Canada ) and Seattle ( Washington, United States ).
An air - mail contract with Canada Post was one of the methods by which T.C.A. was financed. With the Corporate Headquarters located in Winnipeg ( Manitoba, Canada ), its first President was Gordon Roy McGregor ( 1901 - 1971 ). On July 1st, 1938, T.C.A. hired its first flight attendants. Transcontinental routes from Montréal to Vancouver began on April 1st, 1939, using 12 Lockheed Model 14 Super Electras and six Lockheed Model 18 Lodestars.
By January 1940, the airline had grown to about 579 employees. Prior to T.C.A., no large national airline existed in Canada. With war looming, and other nations ( primarily the United States ) experiencing major increases in the creation of passenger airlines, it was necessary to have a presence. The C.N.R. was the country's largest corporation at the time and proved an effective vehicle for the government to create a national airline. In response to C.N.R.'s creation of T.C.A., arch - rival Canadian Pacific Railway created Canadian Pacific Air Lines ( C.P. Air. ) in 1942. During the same year, the Latter suggested a merger with T.C.A. The Prime Minister rejected the proposal and introduced legislation regulating T.C.A. as the only airline in Canada allowed to provide transcontinental flights.
With the increase in air travel after the Second World War, C.P. Air. was granted one coast - to - coast flight and a few international routes. The postwar years saw the acquisition by T.C.A. of the following aircraft :
- Douglas DC - 3 ( 1945 - 1963 ).
- Canadair North Star ( 1947 - 1961 ).
- Lockheed Super Constellation ( 1954 - 1963 ).
- Vickers Viscount ( 1954 - ? ).
- Vickers Vanguard ( ? - ? ).
In 1953, with the development of ReserVec ( originally called Gemini ), T.C.A. became the first airline in the world to use a computer reservation system with remote terminals. The airline acquired a fleet of Douglas DC - 8 jet airliners, the first being received on May 25th, 1960. The DC - 8 quickly replaced the slower Super Constellations on T.C.A.'s scheduled services to Europe.
In 1964, an Act of Parliament proposed by Joseph J.J. Chrétien ( 1934 ) changed the name of Trans - Canada Air Lines to " Air Canada ", which was already in use as the airline's French - language name. This bill failed but it was later resubmitted and passed, with the name change taking effect on January 1st, 1965. During the 1970s, government regulations ensured Air Canada's dominance over domestic regional carriers and rival C.P. Air. In 1976, with reorganisation at C.N.R., 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 C.P. Air, and ended the government's direct regulatory control over Air Canada's routings, fares and services. The carrier's fleet expansion saw the acquisition of Boeing 727, Boeing 747, and Lockheed Tristar jetliners. In 1978, Judy Cameron ( 1954 ) became the first female pilot hired to fly for any major Canadian carrier when she was hired to fly by Air Canada.
In 1988, Air Canada was privatised, and 43 % of shares were sold on the public market, with the initial public offering completed in October of that year. By this time, long - haul rival C.P. Air had become Canadian Airlines International following its acquisition by Pacific Western Airlines. On December 7th, 1987, Air Canada became the first airline in the world with a fleet - wide non - smoking policy, and in 1989 became completely privatised.
In the early 1990s, Air Canada encountered financial difficulties as the airline industry slumped in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War. In response, the airline restructured management by hiring former Delta Air Lines executive Hollis L. Harris ( 1931 - 2016 ) as its C.E.O. Harris restructured the airline's operations, reduced management positions, moved the Corporate Headquarters to Dorval Airport ( present - day Montréal - Trudeau International Airport, Dorval, Québec, Canada ), and sold the enRoute card business to Diners Club in 1992. By 1994, Air Canada had returned to profitability.
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. On September 2nd, 1998, pilots for Air Canada launched the company's first pilots' strike, demanding higher wages. 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.
On October 31st, 2004, the last Air Canada Boeing 747 flight landed in Toronto ( Ontario, Canada ) from Frankfurt ( Hesse, Germany ) as AC873, ending 33 years of 747 service with the airline. The Boeing 747 - 400 fleet was replaced by the Airbus A340 fleet.
Travel restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic forced Air Canada to heavily restrict service. In its first quarterly financial report, Air Canada announced it had lost CA$1.05 billion, and only made CA$345 million in profit. The airline similarly suffered in the third quarter, reporting a loss of CA$685 million. In April 2021, the Government of Canada acquired 6.4 % of Air Canada as a part of a $5.9 billion Coronavirus related assistance package, and has not ruled out further investment.
( source : Wikipedia )