For previous parts of this series see:
Mounting debts, elderly equipment, marginal routes and increasing competition within the Canadian market, itself approaching deregulation, all served to make the early 80s a treacherous time for the French speaking airline.
The Quebec government attempted to force Air Canada off the competing routes to protect Quebecair however this caused a political fracas that saw the plan dropped, not that Air Canada or Nordair were ever willing to accept it anyway. Instead in 1983 the airline was purchased by the Quebec government which hoped to be able to sell it on in the near future. In the meantime the beleagured airline was forced to sell its 3 owned 737-296s to Pan Am in May leaving it with leased 737s and its elderly One-Elevens.
The One-Elevens were withdrawn and 6 HS-748s joined the fleet. Into 1984 the company took up a new red and blue striped livery. Despite the government buyout Quebecair's losses continued into 1985 with a $8.4 million deficit. This was no doubt in part due to the lease of a pair of Douglas DC-8-63s (C-GQBA, QF) used briefly for transatlantic charters. After a heated tender process Quebecair was finally sold by the government in 1986 to private interests including Michael LeBlanc and Nordair who each had 35% holding. LeBlanc would become President whilst Nordair itself was soon absorbed into the new Canadian Airlines.
By that stage Quebecair had returned all its 737s and was effectively operating as a feeder airline with CV-580s and a pair of newly delivered F28-1000s (C-GQBR/BS). Resulting pay cuts and lay-offs (staff were cut from 900 to 500) stimulated strike action from employees. Now operating as a regional commuter airline Quebecair's name fell victim to consolidation of Canadian's regional partners in Quebec when it was merged with the smaller Nordair Metro and Quebec Aviation to form Inter-Canadien in 1987. As part of this it gained a fleet of Metros and more CV-580s.
C-GQBS had previously been LN-SUO ‘Magnus Barfot’ with Braathens S.A.F.E since August 1969. By 1988 with costs significantly reduced the airline was finally profitable and began looking for jet replacements for its fleet. The decision between the F100 and BAE-146 led to an order for 7 new F100s of which the first arrived in 1989. The two F28s didn't remain in the fleet for long, though they did get the new colours. F-GQBS became F-GIAG with TAT and was then leased to Palair Macedonia in 1993 before being withdrawn and finally broken up in 1997.
LeBlanc resigned in March 1991 and once again Canadian Airlines took control. The F100s were returned to their lessors in 1991 with C-FICQ joining Air UK as G-UKFE. She stayed with the airline after the takeover by KLM and when KLM UK was merged into KLM Cityhopper in 2003 this aircraft became PH-OFE. She was withdrawn in 2011 and is now preserved on the Amsterdam Schiphol visitor terrace.
Inter-Canadien's fleet was standardised around ATR-42s and towards the end of the 90s the carrier grew its fleet to 16 ATRs and 3 F28s with the takeover of many of Air Atlantic's routes. However the collapse of Canadian Airlines itself was finally too much for it and it also shutdown, extinguishing the last traces of Quebecair along with it.
12/8/2018 10:09:22 pm
I was born and raised in Rouyn-Noranda, QC. During the 1970s, Quebecair became known to us as a basically unreliable airline. Its flights into our airport (operated by F-27s and BAC 111s) were subject to numerous delays, and on one occasion, an F-27 bound for Quebec City with a full complement of passengers would not start. At the time, I was not aware of the precarious financial situation of the airline, but in that light, the above certainly makes sense!
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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: