The Airline

CP Air, formed as Canadian Pacific Airlines in 1942. Ten bush airlines had been bought up by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and they began operations as Canadian Pacific Airlines with Canadair C4 Argonauts, DC3s and then DC6s. In 1958 the airline replaced these types with Bristol Britannia turboprops. It entered the Jet Age in 1961 with the arrival of three Douglas DC8s, which became the fleet standard for the 1960s and early 1970s with DC8-40s and DC8-63s.

Throughout its history Canadian Pacific Airlines, battled Canada's big airline, the government favored Trans Canada Airlines (later called Air Canada). Forced to fly less lucrative and traditional routes along with its domestics, CPA led by its charismatic first president Grant McConachie, opened up the Pacific and developed routes to the Far East, Australia, South America and Europe.

All of the aircraft in the Canadian Pacific Airlines fleet were christened with the name and callsign of Empress along with the name of the area they primarily served. For example CPA's first Douglas DC-8-43 was named Empress of Santiago. Later on when CP Air took delivery of their first Boeing 747 it was named Empress of Asia. These names were not necessarily permanent, for example Empress of Asia was later changed to Empress of Japan. Naming the aircraft was a public relations move and not a means of identifying it. CP Air's fleet of 737s were not given Empress titles until 1984. Using Empress names had its beginnings in the late 1800's with the birth of the Empress fleet of ocean going passenger ships owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

CP Air was created in 1968 by the renaming of Canadian Pacific Airlines. The parent company - Canadian Pacific Limited - had decided to align the airline's name to that of it's other subsidiaries - CP Hotels, CP Rail, etc. CP Air's passenger service expanded during the 1970's and 1980's with the purchase of Boeing 727s and 737s which were used for non-transatlantic routes. From 1979 DC10-30s were used on the Gatwick route alongside Boeing 747-200s.

Many airline enthusiasts have noted CP Air’s colorful orange, red & silver livery as one of their all time favorites. "Orange is Beautiful" came about as CP’s parent company Canadian Pacific and it's president Buck Crump decided to give the company a marketing makeover in 1968 and it's divisions a more modern look. Within each division a dominant color emerged for their theme, CP Air’s being orange, CP Rail’s red, CP Transport and CP Express were blue, CP Ships was green CP Telecommunications was yellow, and CP Hotels was gray. All contained the new CP logo called the MULTIMARK.

The multimark represented CP’s worldwide influence with the triangle depicting motion, the half circle depicting global service and a square signifying stability. CP Air's planes were painted each with the upper fuselage and tail orange with a wide red stripe that started on the top above the pilot's window and ran back to the very end of the plane below the tail. The remainder of the body was silver with a large multimark logo in white and red on the tail and the black title "CP Air" on the forward fuselage. The registration and fleet numbers were displayed in black on the rear fuselage and the tip of the tail respectively. The first aircraft to wear the orange livery was the company's initial Boeing 737 which was delivered on October 22 1968.

The New York advertising firm Lippincott & Margulies designed the corporate look for CP Air and it's livery. The advertising team came up with the hookline of "Orange is Beautiful" or "Orange, ca va loin," because, so the story goes, when the agency's chief executive was in San Francisco he saw an orange tree in full bloom and was deeply impressed by its vibrancy.

During the early era and turmoil of deregulation of the Canadian commercial aviation industry in the mid 80's CP Air made some aggressive moves to expand on its domestic market share and route network. Partnerships formed with smaller feeder airlines such as AirBC, Eastern Provincial Airways and Nordair. Eventually CP Air would acquire the latter two and amalgamate them into the company.

At the end of 1985, CP Air was working to re-invent itself and the then airline president Donald J. Carty wanted his employees to be the first to hear CP Air was reverting back to its old name, Canadian Pacific Air Lines. On December 17 1985 he used the Christmas issue of the airline's newsletter CP Air News to announce the phasing out of the orange livery before it was made public in January.

The new paint scheme featured planes with their lower fuselage and tail painted in blue and the upper body in white, both separated by a stripe of red. This time the new corporate image makeover was a purely Canadian contribution, designed by a Vancouver based firm West Graphika.

The multimark was modernized and renamed the "motionmark" introducing five horizontal stripes to depict all 5 continents that CP Air flew to. The name CP Air and its orange livery had been in use for 18 years and were introduced to emphasize the worldwide operations of the corporate parent, Canadian Pacific Limited. Strangely enough it was in the overseas market that the abbreviated name had the least impact.

While Canadians have been familiar with the initials C.P.R. and C.P, for generations, such was not the case abroad and, to many CP Air did not identify the airline as one of Canada's flag carriers. Worse, it caused confusion with Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airways which competed with CPAL on the Vancouver - Hong Kong route.

While it was planned the painting of the entire fleet would be complete in about 3 years it wasn't to last as In 1987 Canadian Pacific Air Lines was bought by Calgary based Pacific Western Airlines. The merging of each company and its employees formed Canadian Airlines International. Flying as that carrier lasted only until the year 2001 when the financially troubled Canadian Airlines was finally acquired by longtime rival Air Canada.