Saskatchewan Aviation Chronology 1980-89

1981 - Norcanair ended its money-losing Regina-Minot route. But Frontier Airlines of Denver stepped in quickly and on May 1 began operating Boeing 737s on a once-a-day route that started at Denver in late afternoon and went to Minot, then Regina and Saskatoon, where the crew and aircraft overnighted before returning to Denver the next morning. (See "Frontier airlines will begin route with discount fares", by Will Chabun, The Leader-Post, March 18, 1981)

 October, 1981 -- Norcanair’s owners, seeking to retire, announced they had agreed to sell the firm’s scheduled route licences and F-27 aircraft to the Saskatchewan government. A joint press conference was held in the Legislative Building to indicate that the new firm, to be called SaskAir, would be run as a north-south commuter line, using one and possibly two Boeing 737s. Existing Norcanair personnel were to be utilized, with Air Canada supplying consulting services.

 But the government of NDP Premier Allan Blakeney fell in the next spring’s election, and Norcanair briefly sat in a kind of legal limbo until Saskatoon businessman Albert Ethier agreed in 1983 to buy Norcanair and merge it with his charter firm, Hi-Line Airways. Norcanair later acquired F-28 equipment and sought to become a feeder to CPAir until the latter itself was merged with Pacific Western Airlines to create Canadian Airlines International Ltd.

 1984, June 15/16 - CFB Moose Jaw plays host to the first and only unlimited class air races to have occurred outside of the U.S. Competing in two races were nine P-51D Mustangs, three Hawker Sea Furies and two Vought Corsairs -- all registered in the US. Prizes were modest: a total package of $60,000 Canadian, including $7,500 (Cdn) first prizes, compared with first prizes of between $35,000 and $60,000 (US) at annual races at Reno. Plans to hold additional races at the base went unrealized. For more information, see Will Chabun's article on these races in the Leader-Post, June 17, 1984.

 1986, April 10 -- Norcanair president Albert Ethier announced that his airline had entered a commercial relationship with Vancouver-based CP Air. Under it, CPAir would acquire a 25% interest in Norcanair, which would paint its aircraft in moss-green markings resembling CP's own blue colors.

 Under this agreement, Norcanair would feed passengers into CP's route system at Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary. (CP Air had served Regina and Saskatoon in 1982-83, bowing to competition from Air Canada and Pacific Western).

However, before this deal could be completed, CP Air itself was acquired by PWA in March 1987.

 Within scant weeks, Ethier had decided to sell Norcanair to Time Air, itself 45% owned by PWA. The purchase price later emerged as being about $4.5 million. (At the time, a Time Air executive said "Norcanair is expected to earn revenue of $22 million in 1987, compared with about $13 million last year."

Summer -- the Italian air force's precision jet demonstration team, the Frecce Tricolori ("Tricoloured Arrows") performed at  CFB Moose Jaw while on a tour of North America. The team used 10 Aermacchi 339 jet trainers -- the largest team in the world. (Source: Air & Space Smithsonian, May 2011, Page 56.) 

 September -- the Regina airport terminal, expanded at a cost of $35 million, was officially opened. With this renovation, the size of the terminal building was increased to 13,000 square metres (from 4,000).

 1987 -- Norcanair formally became part of Time Air