I've covered Wardair's history before on the blog here - mainly focusing on the earlier days.
Wardair in the early 1980s was operating a small fleet of 3 DC-10s and 4 747s. To facilitate the airline's expansion and replace the larger types with more efficient twinjets the Airbus A310 was chosen. In March 1981 six aircraft were ordered direct from Airbus with six further options. The price of the deal was CAD $425 million including spares and support. Wardair got a good deal on the aircraft as at the time Airbus was still trying to break into the North American market. Indeed this was the company's first sale in Canada.
Wardair finally gained its first international services in June 1984 (to San Juan) and these were followed in May 1985 by rights to serve the UK. Wardair's charter operations were only marginally profitable themselves and though the first A310s were originally scheduled to enter service in October 1983 they were delayed as the costs of international schedules no doubt mounted. The 747 fleet was shrunk with the airline's two 747-211Bs (C-GXRA and GXRD) sold in 1986 and 1987, though a series 133 was leased to join the other two 747-1D1s.
The first A310 didn't arrive until November 25, 1987 after the original deal was renegotiated in January. The first aircraft was registered C-FGWD. In the meantime Wardair had leased three South African Airways Airbus A300s from August 1986. The three A300s became C-GIZJ, L and N and were gradually returned as more A310s arrived, with the last (GIZL) returned in August 1990. All the 12 A310s but one had registrations that ended in Wardair's IATA code WD. The 3 DC-10s were also sold in 1988 and 1989 as the last A310s arrived.
Max Ward still had grand dreams for his airline and wasn't content to compete only on international routes. He wanted to break the duopoly on domestic routes too. These rights were granted on March 20, 1986 and services began on May 4. The A310s were hardly best suited to domestic services and Wardair was also battling the well ensconced majors with their frequent flyer programmes. This didn't stop Wardair though and in 1988 they ordered another two A310s and 12 McDonnell Douglas MD-88s at a cost of over CAD $600 million. The airline also held talks with Fokker for 24 of their new F100s at an estimated CAD $400 million. All of this was despite the fact that the airline was bleeding red ink.
The end was drawing near for Wardair by the end of 1988 but bizarrely a white knight came to the rescue in the form of PWA, the owners of rival Canadian Airlines. An initial offer was made for the airline in January 1989 and it was finalised in May securing the jobs of the airline's staff and getting Max Ward himself a handsome payout of around CAD $70 million. If they'd have just waited a bit longer Wardair would have gone under and they could have picked up the pieces for next to nothing.
Wardair's fleet hardly fitted with Canadians and all outstanding orders for A310s and MD-88s were cancelled. In February 1990 Canadian announced the sale of all 12 A310s and the 2 747-100s to leasing companies for about $900 million. It instead standardised its fleet around Boeing 767s and 747-400s.
Five of the A310s ended up with the Canadian armed forces. C-GIWD, depicted above by Gemini jets, went to Kuwait Airways as A6-KUC. In December 1993 she was leased by GPA to Nepal Airlines as D-APON. In July 1996 she joined Oasis International as EC-396 (later EC-GIL) but two years later she was with Aeroflot as VP-BAF. In September 2003 she joined TAP as CS-TEZ and three years later she went back to Canada as C-GTSF with Air Transat with whom she still serves.
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: