Walter R. "Stub" Ross grew up on a cattle ranch in Southern Alberta during the 1930s and 40s but his father was already a pilot who used aircraft on the ranch and by the age of 18 (in 1949) Stub had his private pilots license. By the early 1960s he was President of both the Flying Farmers and Alberta Flying Farmer Executive but he had dreams of flying commercially. In 1963 he gained his commercial pilots license and bought out Lethbridge Air Services (LAS), an operator with a single aircraft. Stub wanted to turn LAS into a short haul airline operating initially between Lethbridge and Calgary.
Finally after much effort in 1966 the Canadian government gave him his license and he acquired a pair of 9 passenger Beech 18s with which to operate his airline service. The inaugural flight taxied out on May 16, 1966. Despite low expectations from all (including himself) he was turning a profit in only 8 months and LAS became the nation's first small airline to compete against Air Canada (who already operated the Lethbridge-Calgary service with Viscounts but only once daily). The route was only 130 miles long and took 45 minutes but by February 1968 LAS had already carried 10,000 passengers. The Calgary service was increased to 4 times daily and a new route to Red Deer opened up (which required a third Beech 18). All of this was undertaken with a staff of only 6 people - including 2 receptionists! This didn't stop excellent service however with addons like complimentary bus service into Lethbridge via a VW mini-van. The airline's slogan was "Time Flies...Why don't you".
Time Air began four engine prop-service on its trunk Calgary-Edmonton route in late 1980 when its first of two DHC-7s joined (C-GTAJ followed by C-GTAZ in September 1981). Expansion continued with the acquisition of a small fleet of 52 seat Convair 580s and 640s used for both scheduled services and charters and in 1985 a pair of new Shorts 360s. Together these replaced the smaller Shorts 330s. The Shorts 360s were used primarily on the Time Air Connector routes which linked Vancouver to 3 destinations on Vancouver Island whilst the sturdy and larger Convairs serviced northern cities such as Cold Lake, Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan, High Level, Rainbow Lake, Peace River and Grande Prairie. The more commercially oriented DHC-7s were used for the more competitive southern routes.
With the Canadian industry gradually opening up to competition and closer ties being sought between third level operators and the majors successful Time Air was on the way up. In 1983 Pacific Western took a 46% share in the carrier and a year later Walter Ross retired. Time Air made a C$1 million profit on a turnover of C$40 million in 1986 and in 1987 acquired both Southern Frontier Airlines (and its Beech 99s) and another long time regional Norcanair. The Norcanair purchase enabled expansion east to Manitoba and Winnipeg. Inevitably in April 1987 Time Air began to codeshare with the new Canadi>n Airlines International. This process led to the erosion of its own brand and the replacement of it with CAI Commuter colours (Pacific Western half and half colours had already been applied to some aircraft as you can see below).
By the mid 1980s Time Air had acquired a mixed fleet of Shorts 360s, DHC-7s, Convairs and Beech 99s but the future began to arrive in 1986 as the first of a new fleet of DHC-8-100s joined. Even though extra DHC-7s and another Shorts would join it was the DHC-8 which would enable a fleet renewal. Four series 100s were first followed by 6 series 300s for which the carrier was the launch customer.
In 1991 Canadian took 100% control and two years later Time Air's name was lost inside the new Canadi>n Regional Airlines (though full amalgamation didn't officially take place until 1998). This airline built up the world’s largest fleet of F28s of over 30 frames and many weren't retired until Canadi>n Airlines itself had been acquired by Air Canada and the F28s were part of Air Canada Jazz. C-FTAV was one of these and was retired in August 2002.
Time Air. Wikipedia
Prophet, M. 1983. Winter in Edmonton. Michaelprophet.com
1987, May. Time Air buys Norcanair. Flight International.
1991. Time Air: 25 Years of People, Service and Memories - 25th Anniversary Book
2011, April. 45th Anniversary of Time Air Reunion and BBQ. AvCanada.ca
Just a small correction on an excellent write up. The three original SD3-30's (of which Time Air was also the launch customer), were C-GTAM, C-GTAS, and C-GTAV. C-GTAV is still in existance, and the Time Air Historical Society is currently raising funds to bring it back to canada for static restoration and display. C-FTAV, the "Silver Bullet" F-28, is currently under negotiation to be acquired, also.
12/2/2021 11:40:58 pm
5 years after publication is a bit late to make a comment, but Lethbridge is my hometown and it's great to see a little part of its history on this lovely site. Thank you! I'm a bit too young to remember it (b. 1988) but my family speaks fondly of "Time Scare", so of course I had to get the Aeroclassics F-28 ( though I chose the Candi>n Regional livery).
13/2/2021 08:50:31 am
Joe - you may be happy to know that we now own BOTH "TAV's"! C-FTAV, the Silver Anniversary Time Air F-28-1000 was purchased in September of 2020. We hope to bring it back to Lethbridge later in 2021. https://www.facebook.com/timeairhs
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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: