1/19/1989: Wardair Acquired by Rival Canadian Airlines

1/19/1989: Wardair Acquired by Rival Canadian Airlines

DALLAS — Today, in 1989, Canadian Airlines International (CP) acquired Wardair Canada (WD) for C$250 million, marking a significant development in the aviation industry.

This acquisition provided CP with a strong foothold in Eastern Canada, where it had previously held minimal market share, and granted the airline access to a wide range of new routes, including those connecting the UK and Europe.

These routes had been a long-standing goal for CP, making the purchase a highly strategic move for the airline’s expansion and growth.

Wardair Candad Boeing 707-300C. Photo: RuthASCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wardair History


Founded by Maxwell W. Ward in 1953, Wardair initially operated as a domestic carrier. However, in 1962, it ventured into transatlantic charter flights and went on to introduce the Boeing 707 in 1968 and the 747 in 1973. Wardair’s success as a charter carrier was evident when it received the prestigious IATA International Service Award for four consecutive years.

In 1986, Wardair made a significant move by introducing scheduled passenger services, aiming to compete with established Canadian airlines. However, the airline immediately encountered financial difficulties due to various factors. Problems with its reservation system and rapid expansion ultimately led to the airline running out of funds, resulting in its unfortunate downfall.

WD introduced the DC-10 in 1978. Photo: Tim Rees (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

Canadian Airlines History


The origins of Canadian Airlines International can be traced back to March 1987, when Pacific Western Airlines (PW) acquired Canadian Pacific/CP Air (CP). Following the merger, the combined airlines adopted the name Canadian Airlines International. The fleet of Canadian Airlines International comprised nine McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30s for international flights and 70 737-200s for domestic operations.

However, the acquisition did not proceed as smoothly as anticipated. In April 1989, American Airlines (AA) made a bid for Wardair (WD) after Canadian regulatory authorities expressed concerns about the potential duopoly resulting from the merger.

Canadian Airlines International made efforts to streamline its operations but encountered financial difficulties throughout the 1990s. In 2000, Air Canada (AC) acquired CP and fully integrated it into the national flag carrier by January 2001.


Featured Image: Wardair Canada Boeing 747 pictured at London Gatwick. Photo: Maarten Visser from Capelle aan den IJssel, NederlandCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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