On the 10th of April, 1936, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), was created by legislation of the federal government as a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway (CNR).
Passenger operations began on the 1st day of September 1937, TCA growing to about 500 employees by January 1940. Transcontinental flights began on the 1st of April, 1939, thanks to 18 Lokheed aircraft.
In 1953, Air Canada became the first airline in the world to use a computer reservation system with remote terminals.
In 1964, a bill was submitted to change TCA’s name to Air Canada, but it failed and was resubmitted and passed, the name change taking effect on the 1st of January, 1965.
After being headquartered at 1 Place Ville-Marie in Montreal in 1975, Air Canada became an independent Crown corporation in the late 1970s.
In early December, 1987, Air Canada became the first airline in the worl to introduce a fleet-wide non-smoking policy.
In 1988, the company was privatised, 43% of its shares being sold on the public market. The process was complete one year later.
In May 1997, Air Canada co-founded Star Alliance.
Canadian Airlines, Canada’s second largest air carrier, was acquired by Air Canada in January 2001.
On 1st of April, 2003, Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection, emerging from it 18 months later.
In 2004, Boeing 747-400 planes were replaced by Airbus A340s.
In 2005, Air Canada was the first carrier to introduce personal seatback entertainment systems in smaller jet aircraft for short-haul flights.
In 2006, Air Canada was the first airline in North America to implement 2D barcode scanning, with the introduction of 2D barcodes on boarding passes and itinerary receipts.
In 2007, Air Canada was the first airline in North America to introduce electronic boarding passes for mobile check-in, for customers using a cellular phone or smartphone.
In 2009, Air Canada released the mobile applications for Apple and Blackberry devices, allowing travellers to obtain electronic boarding passes, track flight information in real-time and more.
In 2010, Air Canada was the first cargo carrier to offer a mobile tracking solution with the introduction of the Air Canada Cargo mobile app.
In 2011, Air Canada introduced mobile booking through Air Canada App for Apple devices.
In 2012, Air Canada launched Air Canada rouge, a new leisure airline with stylishly affordable service to holiday spots in Europe and the Caribbean.
On the 1st of July, 2013, Air Canada rouge began service from Vancouver and Toronto.
In 2014-2015, Air Canada received its first Boeing B787 8 and Boeing B787 9. The new aircraft allowed for the acceleration of its international expansion strategy with more non-stop services to new international destinations. All Dreamliners feature redesigned interiors in a three-cabin configuration: International Business with fully lie-flat seats, Premium Economy, and Economy.
In May-June 2016, in only one month, Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge launched 10 new non-stop international routes to four continents: seven new routes to Europe and three to Asia (Toronto-Seoul), Africa (Montreal-Casablanca), and Australia (Vancouver-Brisbane). In addition to the recent global expansion of year-round or seasonal services, Air Canada Launched 11 new trans-border routes to the U.S. This was the most intensive period of international expansion in the airline’s history.
In 2017, Air Canada celebrated its 80th anniversary and unveiled a new livery and new charcoal grey and black uniforms, with red accents and accessories.
In April 2018, Air Canada rebranded its International Business Class as Air Canada Signature Class, offering a new end-to-end premium travel experience, including an enhanced menu, new amenity kits, a BMW Chauffeur Service during domestic to international connections and access to the Air Canada Signature Suite at Toronto-Pearson International Airport. Air Canada Signature Service is offered on international routes and select North American routes.
In June 2018, Air Canada and Air China signed a joint venture, the first joint venture agreement between a North American and Chinese airline that enables the two flag carriers to expand their existing codeshare relationship and increase commercial cooperation on flights between Canada and China and on key connecting domestic flights in both countries.
In 2018, Air Canada was re-affirmed as North America’s only 4-Star, full-service international carrier by Skytrax. At the 2018 Skytrax World Airline Awards, Air Canada was named Best Airline in North America, for the seventh time in nine years, and won the Best Business Class in North America award.
In 2019, Air Canada continued to invest in upgrading its fleet, taking delivery of new planes and modifying some of the existing ones. With the delivery of the last Boeing B787 9 aircraft, the widebody fleet revamp officially became complete. The airline also has 45 Airbus A220 aircraft on order and took delivery of the first in December 2019. Air Canada also enlarged the Air Canada rouge fleet with 4 Airbus A320 and 8 Airbus A321 aircraft.
In 2020, travel restrictions imposed by governments due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced Air Canada to severely restrict service. As a result, Air Canada registered a 73% decline in passengers carried during 2020 and a net loss of $4.647 billion. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada has taken and implemented a number of safety measures, including the Air Canada CleanCare+, a program designed to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by enhancing health and safety measures at every stage of the journey.
In January 2021, Air Canada received the Diamond certification from the APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying, which recognizes that Air Canada has one of the best biosafety programs in the airline industry that establishes the highest standards of hygiene, cleanliness, and attention to public health guidelines.
In the second quarter of 2021, Air Canada increased its ASM capacity by 78% compared to the second quarter of 2020. During its peak summer schedule developed to support the country’s tourism and hospitality businesses and to advance Canada’s economic recovery, Air Canada is serving a total of 50 Canadian destinations. In July, Air Canada announced its summer trans-border schedule, including 34 destinations and 55 routes with up to 220 daily flights between the U.S. and Canada.
Since Trans-Canada Air Lines was founded, planes belonging to it and Air Canada were involved in a few accidents, the first one being in November 1963, when 118 people died after a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 stalled on takeoff out of the Montreal-Dorval International Airport, and the last accident with casualties happened in June 1983, when 23 people aboard Flight 797 perished.