Nolisair was a Canadian company, the parent company of Nationair, a Canadian airline, and of Technair, an aircraft maintenance company. Based in Mirabel, Quebec, the company was owned by Robert Obadia.
Nationair operated in the late 1980s and early 1990s from bases in Montreal and Toronto, with seasonal bases in Quebec City as well as flights out of Hamilton, Ontario to London, England. At one point, Nationair was Canadas third largest airline, after Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International.
Destinations during the winter months consisted mostly of sun destinations in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. Summer destinations included Vancouver and Calgary but had a heavy emphasis on European destinations - mainly England, Scotland, Portugal and France. The airline also had year-round scheduled service between Montreal Mirabel and Brussels, Belgium, serving the route up to daily.
The airline tried going head to head with Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International operating scheduled flights between Toronto and Montreal, offering cheap fares and flexible ticketing conditions. The scheduled service was fairly short-lived.
During shoulder periods and in order to maximize use of its aircraft, Nationair did a number of sub-contracts. These would sometimes but not always include Flight Attendants as well. This enabled Nationair aircraft to see duty in the Middle East during the run up to the Gulf War doing evacuations, work for the United Nations moving troops into Namibia as well as flights for Nigerian Airways in 1991.
Nationair also did a number of sub-charters for airlines such as Hispania Líneas Aéreas, Garuda Indonesia, Union des Transports Aériens (UTA) and LTU International (LTU). Nationair had been operating some flights for UTA in 1989 during the period where UTA Flight 772 was destroyed inflight.
Nationair Code Data
- ICAO Code: NXA
- IATA Code: NX
- Callsign: Nation Airways
Nationair operated a number of sub-contracts all over the world, including Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 for Nigeria Airways which crashed at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 11 July 1991, killing all 261 on board, including 14 Canadian aircrew. It was and remains the worst aviation disaster involving a Canadian aircraft.
The cause of the crash was found to be under-inflated tires, which in turn caused overheated tires to catch fire, and failure of hydraulic systems and eventual in-flight break-up of the aircraft short of making an emergency landing.
The safety of the airline was often called into question but the President, Robert Obadia vehemently denied the accusations. Eventually, it would be discovered that the airline often flew aircraft that were unworthy, and that Transport Canada knew this, but did nothing about it, "losing" a Safety Review that cast the airline in a negative light. It was later found that the aircraft that crashed in Saudi Arabia was un-airworthy for several days prior to the crash, and that staff had altered documentation in order for the flight to depart on July 11, 1991.
The aircrash, combined with Nationair's poor reputation for on-time service and mechanical problems led to serious problems with public image and reliability among tour operators. These difficulties were compounded when Nationair locked out its unionized Flight Attendants and proceeded to replace them with scabs on November 19, 1991. The lockout lasted 15 months and by the time it ended in early 1993, Nationair found itself in severe financial trouble, and filed for bankruptcy protection.
The company went bankrupt in the spring of 1993 after it was discovered that it owed the Government millions of dollars in unpaid landing fees. Creditors began seizing airplanes and demanded cash up front for services.
By the time it was publicly disclosed that the cause of the crash was negligence on the part of the company, it had already been gone for several years.
Nationair Historical Fleet
- 4 - Douglas DC-8-61F
- 2 - Douglas DC-8-62F
- 1 - Douglas DC-8-63
- 6 - Boeing 747-100
- 4 - Boeing 747-200
- 10 - Boeing 757-200
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