Vancouver-based CP Air was founded in 1942 as Canadian Pacific Air
Lines as a division of the Canadian Pacific transportation empire (which
included railroads, steamships, and hotels). Along with linking major
cities in Canada, CP Air flew Great Circle polar route flights to
Amsterdam and the Far East, as well as long runs down to Latin America
and Australia. Their fleet at first consisted of four-engined Douglas
propliners, then Canadair and Bristol Britannia turboprops, before entering the Jet Age with DC-8s.
Government regulations originally limited CP Air practically to where
TCA/Air Canada couldn’t or didn’t want to fly to, while locking them out
of lucrative destinations such as London and Paris and limiting
domestic operations to the major cities. CP made up for this by
developing a network across the Pacific Ocean to Asia and Oceania, which
would become the carrier’s bread and butter. Once the restrictions were
lifted in 1979, CP Air underwent a rapid expansion across it’s network
and fleet to compete directly with Air Canada, assuming $1 billion
(Canadian) in debt in the process. These factors, along with an economic
downturn in Asia, played against the airline’s fortunes until 1987,
when Pacific Western Airlines bought them out for $300 million. The
merger transformed CP Air into Canadi>n Airlines International, who
themselves would merged into arch-rival Air Canada 13 years later  
Stephan J. Cox (Photos: Geoffrey Thomas)

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