|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2013)|
|Ceased operations||1989 (acquired by Canadian Airlines)|
|Frequent-flyer program||defunct (formerly Reward)|
|Airport lounge||defunct (formerly Club Advance)|
|Key people||Max Ward|
Wardair Canada was a privately run Canadian airline, founded by Max Ward in 1952 under the name Wardair Ltd, before formally changing its name to "Wardair Canada" in 1976. The airline was acquired by and folded into Canadian Airlines in 1989.
In 1946 Maxwell W. Ward founded the Polaris Charter Company at Yellowknife. In 1952 the airline was formed as Wardair and operations began on 6 June 1953 using a single engine de Havilland Canada Otter. In 1962 it entered the trans-atlantic charter market and changed its name to Wardair Canada Ltd. On 1 January 1976 the name was changed to Wardair Canada (1975) Ltd and yet again on 10 June 1977 to Wardair International Ltd.
Wardair provided domestic service in Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, as well as international service to Europe, the United States, and several Caribbean and South American countries. On March 31, 1989, the Canadian Transportation Agency approved the sale of Wardair to Canadian Airlines International.
Wardair had its roots in the air charter business in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. From a modest start as Polaris Charter Company in the mid 1940s operating small biplanes such as the de Havilland Fox Moth (model DH-83C) with service as a passenger and cargo charter company, the airline expanded into the more populous regions of Canada and was transformed into a holiday charter airline, from 1962 onwards. Wardair was not a discount airline but an airline providing good service at lower-than-average prices. They were known for high quality meals and friendly staff. "Steak & Champagne" flights was a popular advertising tag line in the 1980s, and won various awards from magazines for their service (Holiday Which? magazine charter airline of the year 1985, and scheduled carrier of the years 1986 and 1987). Flight attendants served food on Wardair branded Royal Doulton china on tray-table tablecloths on the passenger tray. The seats featured generous pitch.
The operations from the early 1950s were small bush-type runs based in Edmonton, Alberta. and Yellowknife, NWT. Wardair's first large aircraft was a four engine Douglas DC-6B propliner, leased in summer 1962, which started the airline's emphasis on charter flights — to Europe in summer and to Mexico, California, etc. in winter. In 1966, the airline began operating its first jet, being a Boeing 727-100 (Canada's first Boeing which was used to operate flights to and from Europe with a refueling stop en route). The Boeing trijet was followed by the first intercontinental Boeing 707 (thus allowing non-stop flights to Europe) in 1968, and the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet in 1973. Although initially centred on Edmonton, the long-haul flights were relocated to concentrate on Vancouver and Toronto as primary destinations while continuing to serve other major Canadian cities. Hawaii became a significant winter destination with London Gatwick Airport becoming a major summertime destination.
In 1970, the mainline fleet consisted of two 707s and one 727. By 1980 the fleet had grown to include four 747s and two intercontinental McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 wide body jetliners. Wardair was a small but steadily growing company. In 1987, building on a fleet of seven jets, Wardair undertook a major expansion, ordering 38 jet aircraft including 14 Airbus A310s, 12 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s (MD-88 model) and 12 Fokker F100s which represented an exponential expansion of operations that would ultimately prove to be financially unsustainable. The MD-80 and F100 jetliners were never delivered or operated by the airline.
Only the first 12 Airbus A310s had been delivered —the remaining A310s as well as all of the MD-88 and F100 deliveries were cancelled after the takeover.
The airline changed from charter to scheduled service in 1986. Rapid expansion, problems with their computer booking system, and failure to attract business customers, who had developed customer loyalty to frequent flier programs on competing airlines, led the airline into financial difficulties, ultimately resulting in Wardair Canada being sold to Canadian Airlines (which operated as Canadian Airlines International) in 1989. This acquisition, brought on at the insistence of P. M. Brian Mulroney's Conservative Government, played a huge part in Canadian Airlines International to be folded into Air Canada, as they were required to take on a huge unwanted debt of Wardairs, plus routes that were not profitable. Had the Canadian Government let the natural course of business to go through, i.e. Wardair going bankrupt, Canadian Airlines International would have probably survived the lean years after 9/11, which saw air travel hit rock bottom. As well Canadian Airlines International plus its predecessor, Canadian Pacific Airlines, were also for many years, constantly thwarted by Canadian Government policy, both parties) to give the best routes to Air Canada, even though C.P. Air had established solid profitable routes into Asian cities from it's hub of Vancouver International Airport.
- Abbotsford, British Columbia - Abbotsford International Airport
- Calgary, Alberta - Calgary International Airport
- Coppermine River, Nunavut (formerly in the Northwest Territories) - Coppermine Airport
- Edmonton, Alberta - Edmonton International Airport
- Montreal, Quebec - Dorval International Airport
- Ottawa, Ontario - Ottawa International Airport
- Regina, Saskatchewan - Regina International Airport
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Saskatoon International Airport
- Toronto - Toronto International Airport
- Vancouver - Vancouver International Airport
- Windsor, Ontario - Windsor Airport (Charters to Britain in the 1970s and early 1980s)
- Winnipeg, Manitoba - Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
- Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - Yellowknife Airport
- Amsterdam - Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- Birmingham - Birmingham Airport
- Barbados - Grantley Adams International Airport
- Cardiff, Wales - Cardiff International Airport
- Düsseldorf - Düsseldorf International Airport
- Fort Lauderdale - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
- Frankfurt - Frankfurt International Airport
- Glasgow, Scotland - Glasgow Prestwick International Airport
- Hamburg - Hamburg Airport
- Honolulu, Hawaii - Honolulu International Airport/Hickam Air Force Base
- Leeds - Leeds Bradford International Airport
- London - Gatwick International Airport
- London - Stansted Airport
- Los Angeles - Los Angeles International Airport
- Manchester - Manchester International Airport
- Miami - Miami International Airport
- Newcastle upon Tyne, England - Woolsington-Newcastle Airport
- Paris - Orly International Airport
- Seattle, WA - Renton Municipal Airport
- Manchester, UK - Ringway Airport
- San Diego - San Diego International Airport
- Stockholm - Stockholm-Arlanda Airport
- Tampa - Tampa International Airport
- 3 Airbus A300B4-203 - 1986-1989
- 12 Airbus A310-304  - 1987-1989; 5 sold to the Canadian Forces by Canadian Airlines from 1992 and redesignated by RCAF as the CC-150 Polaris.
- 3 Bristol 170 Freighter - 1958-1977
- 2 Boeing 707  - 1968-1978 (includes B707-311C and B707-396C models)
- 1 Boeing 727-100  - 1966-1973
- 5 Boeing 747  - 1973-1989 (includes B747-100 and B747-200 models)
- 2 de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 - 1978-1979
- 2 de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter - 1970
- 5 de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter  - 1953-1972 and 1979–1985
- 2 de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver  - 1954-1968 (includes Turbine Beaver model)
- 2 Douglas DC-6B  - 1962-1966
- 3 McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30  - 1978-1988
Fleet in 1970
|Boeing 707-320 (B707-311C & B707-396C)||2||0|
|de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter||1||0|
|de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter||2||0|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2009)|
- Endres, Gunter G (1982). World Airline Fleets 1983. Feltham: Aviation Data Centre. p. 68. ISBN 0946141029.
- http://www.airliners.net, photo of Wardair de Havilland DH-83C Fox Moth
- http://www.airliners.net, photos of Wardair Boeing 727-100 in Europe
- jp airline-fleets international 89/90
- http://www.airliners.net, photo of Wardair DHC-7 Dash 7 at Yellowknife, NWT
- Flight International 26 March 1970
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