What happened to low-cost airline Canada 3000?

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Canada is a diverse country when it comes to the types of airlines it hosts. From full-service intercontinental carriers like Air Canada to regional operators that serve gravel runways and even water, there really is something for everyone. When it comes to low cost airlines, one such Canadian carrier that no longer exists is Canada 3000. Here is its story.

The early years

Canada 3000 began in 1988 as a subsidiary of British leisure carrier Air 2000. Air 2000 established the airline so that it could keep its aircraft active during the winter months. This initially proved to be a failed attempt, with the Canadian National Transportation Agency (NTA) refusing a license for the new carrier. However, it was able to be operational in December 1988, after Air 2000 moved away from carrier ownership.

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Six months later, in May 1989, the NTA asked the carrier to change its name from “Air 2000 Airline Ltd” to reflect the withdrawal of Air 2000. It thus became known as Canada 3000 and experienced a strong growth in its early years. In 1990, it acquired Vacationair to create a Mexican subsidiary: Aerofiesta. By 1991, it had capitalized on the absorption of Wardair into Canadian Airlines to become Canada’s largest charter carrier. Its network also grew and offered long-haul destinations in Europe and the Pacific.

A diversified fleet

Canada 3000 operated a diverse fleet of narrow-body and wide-body airliners. These planes came from both sides of the dominant Airbus-Boeing manufacturing duopoly. The variety reflected the routes served by Canada 3000. Indeed, in addition to its aforementioned European and Pacific routes, it also flew closer to home with services to the United States.

According to data from ch-aviation.com, Canada 3000 operated narrow-body Airbus designs in the form of the Airbus A320 family. Meanwhile, aircraft from the A310, A330 and A340 families represented the European manufacturer’s wide-body portfolio. As for Boeing, all Canada 3000 aircraft listed by ch-aviation are single-aisle models. The Boeing 737-200 was a popular series, with the carrier operating passenger, combi and freighter versions of this type. The larger Boeing 757-200 was also present at Canada 3000.

The collapse of Canada 3000 prompted employees to demonstrate outside Toronto airport. Photo: Getty Images

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The end of the line

The turn of the century looked promising for Canada 3000. In 2000, the airline went public, raising approximately $30 million through an initial public offering. It also began operating scheduled flights in the early 21st century, along with the first nonstop services to India in North America. However, the industry downturn after 9/11 hit Canada 3000 hard. Two months after the attacks in the United States, in November 2001, Canada 3000 abruptly ceased operations. Neither the employees nor the passengers had been informed in advance.

Although the airline planned to continue flying when it filed for bankruptcy, this never materialized. The mid-2000s also saw an unsuccessful attempt to revive the brand. Former CEO Robert Deluce remains in the industry today, as executive chairman of Porter Airlines.

Did you know about Canada 3000? Maybe you even traveled with this low-cost company at the time? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!


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