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"Nationair" redirects here. Not to be confused with National Airlines (disambiguation)
Nationair Canada
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1984
Ceased operations 1993
Operating bases
Fleet size 15
Headquarters Montréal-Mirabel International Airport
Mirabel, Quebec
A Nationair Douglas DC-8-63 in 1987

Nolisair was a Canadian company, the parent company of Nationair, a Canadian airline, and of Technair, an aircraft maintenance company. The company was owned by Robert Obadia. The headquarters was located in the Nationair Building on the property of Montréal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, Quebec.[1]


Nationair Boeing 747-200 at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport in April 1990.

Nationair operated in the late 1980s and early 1990s from bases in Montreal and Toronto, with seasonal bases in Quebec City as well as flights out of Hamilton, Ontario to London, England. At one point, Nationair was Canada's third largest airline, after Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International.

Destinations during the winter months consisted mostly of sun destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. Summer destinations included Vancouver and Calgary but had a heavy emphasis on European destinations - mainly England, Scotland, Portugal and France. The airline also had year-round scheduled service between Montreal Mirabel and Brussels, Belgium, serving the route up to daily.

The airline tried going head to head with Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International operating scheduled flights between Toronto and Montreal, offering cheap fares and flexible ticketing conditions. The scheduled service was fairly short-lived.

During shoulder periods and in order to maximize use of its aircraft, Nationair did a number of sub-contracts. These would sometimes but not always include Flight Attendants as well. This enabled Nationair aircraft to see duty in the Middle East during the run up to the Gulf War doing evacuations, work for the United Nations moving troops into Namibia as well as flights for Nigerian Airways in 1991, in which one flight ended in disaster.

Nationair also did a number of sub-charters for airlines such as Hispania Líneas Aéreas, Garuda Indonesia, Union des Transports Aériens (UTA) and LTU International (LTU). Nationair had been operating some flights for UTA in 1989 during the period where UTA Flight 772 was destroyed inflight.

Jeddah Aircrash[edit]

Nationair operated a number of sub-contracts all over the world, including Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 for Nigeria Airways which crashed at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 11 July 1991, killing all 261 on board, including 14 Canadian aircrew. It was and remains the worst aviation disaster involving a Canadian airline and a Douglas DC-8.[2]

The cause of the crash was found to be under-inflated tires, which in turn caused overheated tires to catch fire, and failure of hydraulic systems and eventual in-flight break-up of the aircraft short of making an emergency landing.[3]

The safety of the airline was often called into question but the President, Robert Obadia, vehemently denied the accusations. Eventually, it would be discovered that the airline often flew aircraft that were unairworthy, and that Transport Canada knew this, but did nothing about it, "losing" a Safety Review that cast the airline in a negative light.[citation needed] It was later found that the aircraft that crashed in Saudi Arabia was un-airworthy for several days prior to the crash, and that staff had altered documentation in order for the flight to depart on July 11, 1991.[4]

By the time it was publicly disclosed that the cause of the crash was negligence on the part of the company, it had already been gone for several years.


The aircrash, combined with Nationair's poor reputation for on-time service and mechanical problems led to serious problems with public image and reliability among tour operators. These difficulties were compounded when Nationair locked out its unionized Flight Attendants and proceeded to replace them with strikebreakers on November 19, 1991. The lockout lasted 15 months and by the time it ended in early 1993, Nationair found itself in severe financial trouble, and filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company went bankrupt in the spring of 1993 after it was discovered that it owed the Government millions of dollars in unpaid landing fees. Creditors began seizing airplanes and demanded cash up front for services.

The company was declared bankrupt in May 1993, owing CDN$75 million.[5] In 1997 Robert Obadia pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud in relation to the company's activities.[6]

Nationair Destinations[edit]

Nationair started in December 1984, at first carrying out Charter flights (16 to Mexico and the Caribbean) from its base in Montreal-Mirabel to :

- Port-au-Prince in Haiti,

- Cities in Barbados,

- Montego Bay in Jamica

- Cities in the Caribbean,

- Cities in Mexico,

- in Europe: Manchester, Glasgow Prestwick, Paris, Lisbon, Frankfurt am Main;

The airline also flew year-round flights with the following routes :

- Montreal to Toronto

- Montreal to Brussels (for $299 )

- Ottawa to Toronto

- Ottawa to Brusells

- Hamilton to London-Gatwick (for $299 )

- Toronto to Halifax

See also[edit]

Nationair Historical Fleet[edit]

Aircraft No.
Douglas DC-8-61F 4
Douglas DC-8-62F 2
Douglas DC-8-63 2
Boeing 747-100 6
Boeing 747-200 4
Boeing 757-200 10

The planes from Nationair were in a bad condition. Mostly the DC-8 and Boeing 747 were in a bad condition. The seats were red and the walls were in a dark red. It gives only a Economy-Class and no Business-Class or First Class.

Before the Company was bankrupty, in the Fleet were 9 Boeing 757-200 and 6 Boeing 747-200.


External links[edit]