Home Classic Airliners Classic Airliner Fleets – Wardair Boeing 747s

Classic Airliner Fleets – Wardair Boeing 747s

by Matt Falcus

Wardair was a Canadian airline which operated from the 1950s until the 1980s, and became popular as a low-cost way of travel for both Canadians and Europeans wanting to visit Canada on vacation.

Wardair was founded in 1952 by Max Ward with a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter aircraft based out of Yellowknife.

In 1962 the airline acquired its first big aircraft – a Douglas DC-6B which allowed the airline to begin its long association with passenger charters.

The aircraft was used on flights from Canada to destinations in California and Mexico.

RuthAS, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

It was joined in 1966 by Wardair’s first jet aircraft – a Boeing 727-100. Incredibly, this aircraft allowed Wardair to begin flying to Europe, adding a fuel stop en-route owing to the aircraft’s limited range.

The Boeing 707 was added in 1968, allowing non-stop flights to Europe, and in 1973 the first Boeing 747 arrived – a type which would long be recognised with the carrier.


Wardair’s Boeing 747s


With Wardair’s growing presence in the charter market, adding the Boeing 747 allowed the airline to grow its revenue significantly by carrying more passengers on flights across the Atlantic compared to the smaller 707 and 727-100 aircraft.

These aircraft were common to see, particularly in the summer months, at major and even regional airports across countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK right up to the airline’s demise in 1989.


Wardair’s Boeing 747 Fleet

Wardair Boeing 747-124 C-FFUN. Photo (c) Martyn Cartledge

Wardair introduced its first Boeing 747 in 1973.  It operated both the 747-100 and -200B models.

The fleet were:

  • C-FTOB, 747-133, c/n 20014/121, 1986-1990
  • CF-DJC/C-FDJC, 747-1D1, c/n 20208/123, 1973-1990
  • C-FFUN, 747-124, c/n 20305/146, 1974-1990
  • C-GXRA, 747-211B, c/n 21516/326, 1978-1986
  • C-GXRD, 747-211B, c/n 21517/368, 1979-1987


Do Any Wardair 747s Survive?

B747 | RP-C8830 | MZJ | 20051114

All of Wardair’s Boeing 747s went on to fly with other airlines following the airline’s closure, including Philippine Airlines (as seen in the picture above of the former C-GXRD), and some became freighters to end out their days.

However, sadly, none of the former 747 fleet still survives today. All aircraft have been scrapped.


What Happened to Wardair?

A Wardair Airbus A310-300 at Manchester. Photo (c) Martyn Cartledge

Wardair continued to look to expansion through the 1970s and 80s. It added the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 to supplement the 747s and replace the 707s, and in the 1980s ordered modern widebody Airbus jets.

These included the A300B4-203, which arrived in 1986, and the A310-300 which started arriving in 1987.

The airline also ordered the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and Fokker 100 to increase its short- and medium-haul fleets, allowing a growth in domestic, US, Mexico and Caribbean flights.

Sadly, such intense growth over a short period would prove fatal, with the airline’s finances crippled, and a new system to coordinate its growing scheduled services network failed to work as planned.

Wardair was acquired by Canadian Airlines in 1989. Much of its fleet was retired or sold on, and orders were cancelled, following the merger.

wardair boeing 747 canada's holiday airline

Did you ever fly on a Wardair 747? What are your memories of the airline? Leave a comment below!



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Richard Beresford August 3, 2022 - 8:05 pm

I flew on CF-FUN from Birmingham (BHX) to Toronto in 1988. Back then the runway at BHX wasn’t so long as it is now and I remember at the end of the runway the captain putting up the engine power with the brakes on, and he released the breaks and we catapulted off down the runway. It was all one class and I was placed in the nose section just in front of the stairs where first class would be on a “normal” airline. It was so spacious and the crew were amazing. The flight back four weeks later was in the main cabin, ten abreast but I can still remember the quality of the seats. An absolutely fantastic airline.

mark rogers January 29, 2023 - 11:25 pm

I flew wardair and was seated in the nose. It was fantastic. Feeling very old now.. lol

Glenn shields February 2, 2023 - 3:55 pm

What a fabulous airline. I travelled many times on several of their different planes. A couple of the time sitting up in what they called the bubble up top with a half moon sofa in the rear and six luxury club seats on each side with your flight attendant and bar for those sitting in this upstairs lounge . A very wonderful way to fly to Barbadoes I recall and returned also in the upper lounge . I remember on one of the flights the flight attendant coming to my seat and asking how I would like my steak done . Real cutlery and glassware for the drinks and a white napkin on the chair tray prior to meal service . A big difference from today’s flights .

Neal Dixon April 23, 2023 - 9:35 am

My first ever flight at the age of 14 was a Wardair 747 in 1979. I flew from Manchester to Edmonton. I think it stopped at Calgary first before going onto Edmonton.

Neale June 4, 2023 - 2:52 pm

My first flight in December 1973, aged just 18. What an adventure. I just loved every minute of the flight into TO from LGW. Sad to see Wardair being bought up by one of the giants in aviation.


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