Air Nova was established in July 1986 with two de Havilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft flying services to five destinations in Atlantic Canada. Further Dash 8s were acquired as the airline became successful and British Aerospace 146 jets were introduced as routes opened up in Canada and the USA. In the spring of 1999 Air Alliance and Air Nova consolidated under the Air Nova name. After the consolidation of Air Alliance, Air Nova served 28 destinations throughout Eastern Canada and the United States.
Air Nova was a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada.