In the early 1940s, Canadian Pacific purchased ten bush airlines in a short time span, finishing with the purchase of Canadian Airways in 1942, to form Canadian Pacific Air Lines. Early management were largely bush flying pioneers including president Grant McConachie, superintendent Punch Dickins and Wop May who would become a repair depot manager in Calgary.
In 1968, Canadian Pacific was rebranded as CP Air. The parent company, Canadian Pacific Railway, later renamed Canadian Pacific Limited, had decided to align the airline's name and logo design to that of its other subsidiaries, including CP Hotels, CP Ships, and CP Transport (CP Rail was spun off from the parent company later).
Battle with TCA, CP Air battled with the government owned Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) for international and transcontinental routes for much of its history. Despite early attempts to merge into one national carrier, CP Air continued to operate routes based on its previous bush flying heritage.
The federal government established limits on domestic market share and, through international agreements, limits on which countries CP Air could fly to. This barred CP Air from the traditional routes such as London and Paris and limited their access to major Canadian routes such as Vancouver-Toronto and Toronto-New York. CP was forced to develop other overseas routes.
The development of the great circle or polar route to the Far East from its Vancouver base would become one of the cornerstones of the airline. Grant McConachie managed to secure flights to Amsterdam, Australia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai which helped grow the airline's revenue from $3 million in 1942 to $61 million by 1964. Several of the key routes in the early days were as follows: Flights 1 & 2, flying Hong Kong - Tokyo - Vancouver - Edmonton - Winnipeg - Toronto - Montreal; Flight 301/302 Sydney - Nadi - Honolulu - Vancouver - Edmonton , and non-stop via the Polar Route to Amsterdam.
Other flights to Europe included Lisbon, Milan & Rome. Another was flights 401/402 Vancouver, Mexico City, Lima, Santiago and Buenos Aires, and also Flights 501/502 Mexico City - Toronto - Santa Maria (Azores) - Lisbon - Madrid. Other routes duplicated parts of the above, but from the 1959 Intercontinental Timetable these appear to be the main routes, and show the inventiveness that Canadian Pacific Airlines needed to employ; and how they developed other overseas routes for Canada. The airline was flying DC-4s and DC-6s internationally in the 1950s, introducing turboprop Bristol Britannia Aircraft from 1958. DC-8s began to replace them from 1961, but the Britannias continued on routes that were unsuitable for the new jets well into the 1960s - for example on the route to New Zealand until Whenuapai closed to civil traffic in November 1965. Service to New Zealand resumed in 1985 along with non-stop flights from Vancouver to Hong Kong and in 1986 became the first North American airline to have a non-stop flight between North America and Mainland China with a weekly flight to Shanghai. New service to Beijing, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil were added in 1987.
Although Canadian Pacific was not allowed scheduled routes to many European countries, they developed extensive charter flights (operated mainly in summertime) through the 1970s and 1980s to Britain, France, Germany and other European points which permitted them to make some access to these markets. Unusually for charter flights, they were listed in detail in their system timetables to show the full reach of the airline.
By the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the routes CP Air had pioneered such as Vancouver–Tokyo were now very lucrative and the previous distribution of routes was considered unfair. In 1979, the federal government eliminated the fixed market share of transcontinental flights for Air Canada (the successor to TCA). While this was a condition that was pressed by CP Air for a long time, it now scrambled to upgrade its fleet to expand on newly available routes such as new nonstop service from Vancouver to Hong Kong and Shanghai to go along with adding more flights to its then current routes like Amsterdam, Rome, Tokyo and Sydney, Australia to prepare for increased competition from Air Canada in its traditional territory. This required massive fleet renewal and an associated debt of $1 billion.
Scan of photo given to me when I flew the CP B-747-200 simulator at the CP Flight Center in Vancouver BC in 1987.
This debt load, the increased competition, and the economic downturn in Asia would all work against CP Air's future.
Having been renamed CP Air in 1968, the airline in 1986 reverted to its original name of Canadian Pacific Air Lines. The rebranding included replacing its trademark orange livery with a new navy blue color scheme and logo. This occurred shortly after the airline had taken over operations of Eastern Provincial Airways.
This new incarnation, however, would prove to be short-lived. Less than a year later, in 1987, Canadian Pacific Air Lines was sold along with Quebec's Nordair, to Calgary-based Pacific Western Airlines for $300 million. PWA would assume the airline's debt of $600 million. In April 1987, PWA announced that the new name of the merged airline would be Canadian Airlines International. In 2000, Canadian Airlines was taken over by and merged into Air Canada.
CP Air Boeing 737-200
Tue, Oct 23 2012 10:51 AM
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