Airlines of Canada

Canada is a huge country and has many smaller airlines providing passenger and freight services to outlying communities with smaller aircraft. It also has a number of large airlines with strong international networks, and low-cost carriers serving regional and leisure destinations.

This article looks at some of the main airlines of Canada, with others listed underneath.

 

Air Canada

C-FRAM 777 Air Canada

C-FRAM 777 Air Canada. Photo: Erik Ritterbach

Hubs: Calgary International, Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International

The largest airline in Canada is the national carrier, Air Canada, which provides domestic and international flights from a number of hubs around the country. Its fleet ranges from smaller Embraer 190s and the soon-to-be-delivered Bombardier CS300, up through the Airbus A320 family, to wide-body A330s, Boeing 767-300ER, 777-200LR, 777-300ER, and 787-8/9 Dreamliners.

Air Canada serves just over 100 destinations. It is mainly fed through feeder networks from its partner Air Canada Express.

 

Air Canada Express

Air Canada Q400

Hubs: Calgary International, Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International

A feeder carrier for Air Canada which comprises four companies: Air Georgian, Exploits Valley Air Services, Jazz Aviation and Sky Regional Airlines.

Air Canada Express operates a fleet of Beechcraft 1900D, Bombardier CRJ100, 200 and 700, Dash 8-100, 300 and Q400, and Embraer 175s.

 

Air Canada Rouge

Air Canada Rouge

Hubs: Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International

The low-cost arm of Air Canada which was set up to provide affordable long-haul and medium-haul travel, to compete with other carriers operating out of Canada. Its fleet comprises Airbus A319, A321 and Boeing 767-300 aircraft in a different livery to the parent company. It serves destinations in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, the USA, Mexico, Africa and South America.

 

WestJet

By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada (WestJet Boeing 767-300ER C-GOGN) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada (WestJet Boeing 767-300ER C-GOGN) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hubs: Calgary International, Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International

WestJet is the second-largest airline in Canada, and one of the main rivals to Air Canada. It operates low-cost services on domestic trunk routes, as well as commuter routes and international leisure routes. It operates a fleet of Boeing 737-600, 700, 800 and 767-300ER aircraft, with Boeing 737 MAXs on order.

WestJet Encore is a subsidiary of the carrier, operating Bombardier Q400s

 

First Air

First Air

By CambridgeBayWeather (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Hubs: Iqaluit Airport, Yellowknife Airport, Rankin Inlet Airport

One of the well-known operators in Canada’s vast north is First Air. It provides scheduled and charter services mainly serving smaller isolated communities, linking them with the larger cities to the south. It has a fleet of ATR 42 and Boeing 737-400s. Previously First Air used a varied mix of older types, but these have sadly been retired.

 

Air North

Air North

Hubs: Whitehorse International, Vancouver International

Serving the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as cities in the east, Air North is one of Canada’s more interesting airlines. It flies Boeing 737-200/400/500s, ATR 42, and still ha Hawker Siddeley HS748s in operation.

 

Buffalo Airways

Buffalo Airways DC-3

Hubs: Yellowknife Airport, Hay River Airport

Canada’s most infamous airline, and the one that refuses to play by the book. Made famous by the Ice Pilots NWT TV series, Buffalo Airways has made a name for itself by operating World War II era aircraft such as the Douglas DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando, as well as the L-188 Electra and Canadair CL-215. It flies freight services to outlying communities, and is also the only airline in the world to fly a scheduled passenger service with the DC-3.

 

KF Cargo

Kelowna Purolator DC-10 (c) Matthew Capina

Kelowna Purolator DC-10 (c) Matthew Capina

Hubs: Kelowna International, Hamilton International, Miami International

Formerly known as Kelowna Flightcraft. KF Cargo, as the name suggests, is a dedicated cargo airline operating domestic routes, as well as international services to South America from Miami. It is interesting to the enthusiast as one of the last operators of the Boeing 727, Convair 580 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10, as well as Boeing 737-300s, albeit all in freighter configuration.

 

Canadian North

By Jean-Philippe Richard (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jean-Philippe Richard (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Hubs: Edmonton Airport, Yellowknife Airport, Iqualuit Airport

Like Air North, Canadian North still flies the venerable Boeing 737-200 (as well as the -300), and the original Bombardier Dash 8-100 – one of the few airlines you can still fly on these types. It operates services to remote communities in northern Canada.

 

Cargojet

Cargojet 767

Cargojet 767. Photo (c) Erik Ritterbach

Hubs: Hamilton International

A strong international cargo airline, Cargojet has a wide-ranging network of domestic and US destinations. It flies Boeing 727-200, 757-200, 767-200/300 freighters, and can occasionally be seen on charters to Europe etc.

 

Air Inuit

Air Inuit 737-200

Photo (c) Jean-Philippe Richard

Hubs: Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Kuujjuaq Airport, La Grande Riviere Airport

Another rare operator of the Hawker Siddeley HS748, with one cargo example in service. Air Inuit also flies the Boeing 737-200 and Dash 8-100/300 in combi passenger/cargo configuration which serve it well on flights to remote communities. Mostly seen in the east and north east of the country.

 

Air Transat

Air Transat

Hubs: Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International, Toronto Pearson International

The largest leisure airline in Canada is Air Transat. It mostly flies long-haul services to Europe, but is now also a big player on routes to the Caribbean, Mexico and USA. Its fleet comprises Airbus A310-300, A330-200/300 and Boeing 737-800s (which it boosts with leases in the winter).

 

Harbour Air Seaplanes

By Brian (Flickr: Harbour Air) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Brian (Flickr: Harbour Air) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hub: Vancouver Harbour

Vancouver has one of the busiest seaplane ports in the world, and Harbour Air are the major carrier based there. It flies a large fleet of de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, DHC-3 Turbo Otter and DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft on services to islands around the region.

 

Nolinor Aviation

Nolinor Convair 580

Hubs: Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International

Famed as one of the last chances to fly the Convair 440 and 580 airliners. Nolinor is based at Montreal and mostly flies charter services, with no scheduled destinations. Its other aircraft include the Boeing 737-200/300 and Learjet 31.

 

Other notable airlines of Canada:

  • Air Creebec
  • Air Labrador
  • Calm Air
  • Central Mountain Air
  • Flair Airlines
  • Morningstar Express (FedEx Express partner)
  • North Cariboo Air
  • North-Wright Airways
  • Northwestern Air
  • Pacific Coastal Airlines
  • Sunwing Airlines
  • Transwest Air
  • Vancouver Island Air
  • West Coast Air

 

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