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Around the World in 80 Years: Celebrating Air Canada's Anniversary

We take a trip through time with Air Canada, from the first flight to the latest international award. (That's a lot of chicken served at cruising altitude.)

On September 1, 1937, Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) launched its passenger operations, with a 50-minute flight between Seattle and Vancouver and soon, this rather sizeable country was at our doorstep. Today, Canada’s biggest airline – officially renamed Air Canada in 1965 – takes off more than 53,000 times a month, making the planet seem that much more manageable: In 2017, flying Toronto–Beijing takes about 13 hours, which is less time than it took the first Montreal–Vancouver multi-stop flight (hello, Kapuskasing!).

1943: War efforts


War efforts

The Second World War sends Canadian soldiers overseas and, along with them, a need for supplies. TCA’s first transatlantic flight leaves from Montreal and lands in Prestwick, Scotland, nearly 12 1/2 hours later, on July 22, 1943.

1948: snowbirds

Service to Antigua starts in 1958 as Canadians flock to the Caribbean (left).


A snowbird is born

Northerners looking to swap snow for sun and sand see their chance rise and shine in 1948, when TCA launches two new international routes to Bermuda and the Bahamas from Montreal and Toronto.

1959: Continental connections


Continental connections

In May of this year, TCA looks across the pond and expands with new flights to Austria and Switzerland. The airline more than doubles its staff during the 1950s and is well on its way to becoming one of the 20 largest airlines in the world. By 1969, Air Canada is flying 6.5 million passengers to 61 destinations around the globe.

1963: Here comes the jet set


Here comes the jet set

It’s a record year for TCA, as it becomes the first major airline with an all-turbine fleet, and the first to operate jet freighters transporting cargo exclusively. The DC-9, designed for short, frequent flights, lands at Air Canada in 1966, and Canadians across the country hop on board.

1965: Hub-to-hub service

TCA officially changes its name to Air Canada (as it was known in french since 1954).


Hub-to-hub service

TCA’s first non-stop flight between Vancouver and Toronto takes off in 1957, clocking in at just over 8 1/2 hours; the service grows to seven flights daily by the end of the year. Today it’s a hop, skip and a jump between Canada’s two busiest hubs, with the route travelled 18 times a day.


Air Canada flies high

We asked Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines, about the Skytrax win.

What does this award mean for Air Canada?
We are extremely proud to be the Best Airline in North America. The award validates the investments we’ve made in our services and products, such as a renewed fleet featuring state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliners, refurbished aircraft interiors, high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity and an expanded route network. From improved Maple Leaf Lounges to signature dishes and wine pairings on board, the customer experience is at the heart of our operations. We’d like to thank our loyal customers for voting and our employees for their hard work and dedication in helping us earn this distinction.

What’s next for the airline?
We’re on the journey to becoming a Top 10 global airline. We look forward to unveiling more features based on customer insights, including enhancements to our frequent flyer offering, new destination launches and increased customer comfort features. The award is a motivation to show that we can do even better.



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