The Ontario airline with a fleet of one

Canadian travellers looking for a cheap flight to London needed look no further than Ontario Worldair in 1979.

Ontario Worldair chartered the cheapest London-bound flights around

The Ontario airline with just one plane

43 years ago
With its single Boeing 707, Ontario Worldair offers a cheap flight to London, and the competition is trying to catch up. 1:53

Canadian travellers looking for a cheap flight to London needed look no further than an airline called Ontario Worldair in 1979.

They just couldn't be picky about the type of plane they boarded, because all of Ontario Worldair's flights took place on its "one and only" plane, as the CBC's John McQuaker reported in February 1979.

The cost of a trip on the airline's sole Boeing 707 from Toronto to London during "slow travel periods" was the lowest available at the time. 

And that meant the airline had attracted the attention of not just budget-minded travellers, but the competition.

Cheaper by charter 

Jim Mulroney of Ontario Worldair suggested the competition was not actually interested in offering low-cost travel. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

McQuaker said the fare of $269 had caused "Air Canada, Laker, British Airways and Wardair, among others, to bring in new fares of $300 or less." 

For those fares, passengers had to pay in full 90 days before departure.

Freddy Laker, owner of the British charter airline bearing his surname, had complained to the Canadian Transport Commission that Ontario Worldair wasn't charging enough to cover its costs.

"We caught them asleep at their posts," responded Jim Mulroney, spokesman for Ontario Worldair. "They have a cozy relationship among themselves, including those who would have classed themselves as advocates of low-cost air transportation.

"Now they're attacking our program."

Flights on the plane were arranged by charter, meaning passengers didn't book a seat on a scheduled flight; rather, a tour company effectively rented the plane.

Room to move for pilots

Ontario Worldair's tail insignia seemed to reference the provincial emblem, the trillium. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

"People will fly on airlines they've never heard of, if the tour operator has a good reputation," said McQuaker.

 And just because the airline was about as small as it could be, passengers could be assured that the pilots knew what they were doing.

"Its cockpit crews are experienced," said McQuaker, "Many coming from the larger airlines to get in on the ground floor of a new company."

According to the Globe and Mail, Ontario Worldair went bankrupt in January 1981.

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