For part 1 see:Quebecair Pt1: 1946-1970 Rimouski-Jets
In 1972 the airline modified the rather bland scheme introduced by the One-Elevens, keeping the same Q tail logo but with a new distinctive twin cheatline scheme either side of the fuselage windows the upper band of which swept up onto the tail.
The early 1970s saw consolidation of the airline's jet operations when a third One-eleven joined in 1973. This aircraft , C-FQBR, was originally delivered to Bavaria as G-AVEJ on March 23, 1967 but in November had gone to Philippines, as PI-C1141, prior to sale to Quebecair. Sold in 1985 she became 5N-AOW with Okada Air from January 1986-June 1991 when she was written off near Sokoto. By early 1974 Quebecair’s fleet consisted of 3 One-Elevens and 4 F-27s as well as various lighter aircraft.
In 1974 the airline began an expansion into higher capacity charter markets and in June 1974 purchased a single ex-Eastern 727-25 which became C-GQBE. She had originally been N8146N delivered in February 1966. 1975 saw the arrival of a pair of ex-American Airlines 707-123s and these allowed the 727 to also be used on Quebecair’s trunk scheduled routes from Montréal and Quebec City.
In February 1979 one of the 707s (C-GQBH) was written off in a windshear related heavy landing at St Lucia. In 1980 Quebecair got out of the charter business signalling the sale of the remaining 707 and the 727. GQBE was sold to Westburne IntEnt and became a private jet. In 1987 she was sold to Freeport McMorran and became N682FM (later N680AM). From 1992-1995 she operated with Transindo, Far East Avtn and Bakrie Avtn before becoming PK-VBA with Transindo/Far East. As of 1998 she was PK-BAR with Transair and she has been stored at Jakarta since 2001.
Another setback for the airline was the loss of the F-27 C-FQBL in a crash at Sainte Foy following an engine fire on take-off. Twenty of the twenty four onboard were killed and it came only a month after the loss of the 707. The remaining three F-27s were sold in 1981. Two including, the by then, C-FQBA were sold to Horizon Air with QBA (see part 1) becoming N273PH. She was traded in to DeHavilland Canada in 1986 and joined Airlift International in July 1988. They reregistered her as N273RD the next year and in 1992 sold her to American Aviation Enterprises. She was damaged beyond repair on 24th August 1992 at Miami due to a Hurricane.
From 1966 to 1981 Quebecair was profitable only 50% of the time and gradually debt grew to $13.2 million. The route system was only marginally profitable whilst the fleet was diverse (airline operations formed only a part of it). The airline's profitability was also dangerously linked to hydro-electric projects in its geographic zone. In comparison its neighbour Nordair had a far more profitable zone of operations plus a direct route to the USA and a simplified fleet of 737s. Various attempts to merge Quebecair and Nordair over the years came to nothing in part due to mutual antipathy between the French speaking Quebecair and the English speaking Nordair staff. The economic downturn of the early 1980s only served to further weaken the beleagured airline.
In part 3 we'll investigate how the airline got through a turbulent period in the early 80s to be reborn with a new name and new mission.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: