Quebecair began as Rimouski Airlines in 1947 and flew under that name until it merged with Gulf Aviation in 1953 under the name Quebec-Air. The aircraft in operation at the time were the Beech 18, the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver and the Douglas DC-3. Operations were mainly based in Quebec and Montreal was added in 1957. Eventually the latter city became the operating base for Quebecair.
In 1958 a fire in a hangar destroyed three DC-3s and Fairchild F-27 turboprop aircraft were then purchased to replace the destroyed aircraft. The F-27 propjets proved to be very successful. As operations increased, the company introduced a new, larger aircraft in the form of the Convair CV-540 turboprop, which were put on the main route between Montreal and Quebec. In later years, Quebecair also operated the Convair 580 turboprop.
During the 1960s, the company took over various other airlines, namely Matane Air Service and Northern Wings in 1965, Fecteau Air Service in 1968, and Royale Air in 1969. The increase in operations brought the introduction of the first jet aircraft, the British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven, which were put into use on the Montreal - Toronto route in 1969.
The later years
The company took over Air Gaspé in 1973 and acquired more northern routes. In 1974 it bought two Boeing 707s for charter work and also Boeing 727-100 aircraft. It conducted charter flights to destinations in Florida, the Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii. Charter flights were discontinued in 1979 and the 707s were sold off. According to the February 1976 and November 1979 Official Airline Guides (OAG), Quebecair operated the Boeing 727-100 jetliner in scheduled passenger operations between Montreal, Quebec City and other destinations in Quebec and Newfoundland provinces.
By 1981 the financial conditions in Quebecair had become difficult. All aircraft models except for the Fairchild F-27 turboprops and BAC One-Eleven jets were sold. This was a difficult time for Quebecair and other airlines. It did not introduce the Boeing 737-200 until 1983 when the 737s replaced the BAC One-Elevens. In 1984 Quebecair leased two Douglas DC-8-63s for transatlantic charter flights, but these stretched Super DC-8s were not operated very long. According to the October 1985 Quebecair timetable, the airline was operating scheduled passenger flights on two international routes, being Montreal-Boston and Quebec City-New York City.
1985 was a very difficult year for Quebecair as the airline industry in Canada was restructuring. The financial situation at the carrier forced the Quebec government (which had owned the airline for a several years) to sell the company to CP Air in July 1986. In continuing consolidation involving several other Canadian air carriers, notably Pacific Western Airlines, CP Air then became Canadian Airlines International in 1987.
The 1980 route map shows the following destinations being served:
- Gagnon, Quebec
- Montreal, Quebec
- Quebec City, Quebec
- Toronto, Ontario
- Schefferville, Quebec
- Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador
- Sept-Îles, Quebec
- Havre-Saint-Pierre, Quebec
- Baie-Johan-Beetz, Quebec
- Natashquan, Quebec
- Kegaska, Quebec
- Chevery Airport, Quebec
- Churchill Falls Airport, Newfoundland
- Harrington Harbour, Quebec
- Tête-à-La-Baleine Airport, Quebec
- Saint-Augustin-de-Saguenay, (Saguenay), Quebec
- Blanc-Sablon, Quebec
- Port-Menier, Quebec
- Magdalen Islands, Quebec
- Bonaventure, Quebec
- Gaspé, Quebec
- Rimouski, Quebec
- Baie-Comeau, Quebec
- Saguenay, Quebec
- Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec
- Val-d'Or, Quebec
And in the United States:
- Boeing 707-123B (used for passenger charter services only)
- Boeing 727-100 (B727-025 model)
- Boeing 737-200
- British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven
- Douglas DC-8-63 (stretched Super DC-8 used for passenger charter services only)
- Douglas DC-8-54F (used to transport cargo only)
- Fokker F28 Fellowship
- Beechcraft 18
- Curtiss C-46 Commando (used to transport cargo only)
- de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
- Douglas DC-3
Accidents and incidents
- On December 14, 1972, Quebecair Flight QB321 was hijacked by Larry Maxwell Stanford. Stanford boarded the flight in Wabush, Newfoundland, and took control of the aircraft with a .22 caliber rifle. He forced the pilots to fly to Montreal, then to Ottawa, and finally back to Montreal. Stewardess Josette Côté Dishongh was credited with talking Stanford into surrendering at Montreal during the 10 hour ordeal.
- Quebecair flight 714, a Boeing 707-123B C-GQBH operating a flight from Toronto, caught a wind shear while on approach to Hewanorra international airport in St. Lucia on 19 February 1979. The windshear caused the aircraft to halt its descent while already over the threshold. The copilot who was flying at that time retarded the throttles, however at that very moment the aircraft had passed the windshear zone and the nose of the aircraft slammed into the runway and bounced twice, destroying the nose landing gear. There were no fatalities and minor injuries in this incident. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and was written off.
- On March 29, 1979, Quebecair Flight 255, a Fairchild F-27 (tail number: CF-QBL) flying from Quebec City to Montreal crashed after an engine exploded shortly after take off, killing all three crew and 17 out of 21 passengers.
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985. 111." Retrieved on July 23, 2009.
- Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG)
- BI Hengi, Airlines Remembered, Publisher Midland Publishing
- Notorious hijacker to make Edmonton home
- ASN Aircraft accident Fairchild F-27 CF-QBL Quebec, QC
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Quebecair.|
- Fleet and code data
- Quebecair New York Times article
- Quebecair short history
- Airliners.net photos
- Accidents and incidents