|Ceased operations||January 2001 (merged into Air Canada)|
|Parent company||Air Canada|
|Headquarters||London, Ontario Canada|
Great Lakes Airlines (Canada) was formed in 1958, becoming Air Ontario Ltd. in 1983 and Air Ontario Inc. in June 1987  when James Plaxton purchased Great Lakes Airlines prior to its bankruptcy.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada, Air Ontario’s operation as an Air Canada Connector code sharing partner increased substantially in the intra-Ontario marketplace with Air Canada’s decision in February 1990, to discontinue Mainline service to North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins and Windsor. Route expansion from Toronto Island Airport nonstop to both Montreal and Ottawa soon followed, along with the addition of new routes into the United States.
In January 2001, a newly merged carrier called Air Canada Regional Inc. was established. A wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada, this company combined the individual strengths of four regional airlines—Air BC, Air Nova, Air Ontario, and Canadian Regional Airlines. Consolidation of these four companies was completed in 2002 and was marked by the launch of a new name and brand—Air Canada Jazz.
As of 2001, the Air Ontario fleet comprised the following turboprop aircraft:
- Bombardier Dash 8 (formerly de Havilland Canada DHC-8) Series 100 - 41 Aircraft
- Bombardier Dash 8 (formerly de Havilland Canada DHC-8) Series 300 - 7 Aircraft
Total aircraft in fleet in 2001: 48
The airline also previously operated Convair 580 turboprop and Fokker F28 Fellowship jet aircraft. The Convair 580 was initially operated in Air Canada Connector service along with the Dash 8  while the F28 was the only jet aircraft type ever flown by Air Ontario.
Destinations in 1984
Air Ontario was operating Convair 580 turboprops as an independent air carrier with scheduled passenger service to the following destinations in Ontario and Quebec provinces in Canada as well as to two destinations in the eastern U.S. at this time:
- Cleveland, OH
- Hartford, CT
- London, ON
- Montreal, QB - Dorval Airport
- Ottawa, ON
- Sarnia, ON
- Sudbury, ON
- Toronto, ON - Pearson International Airport
Destinations in 1992
- Montreal Dorval Airport
- New York City (Newark Airport)
- North Bay
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Thunder Bay
- Toronto Island Airport
- Toronto Pearson International Airport
By 1995, Air Ontario had added nonstop Air Canada Connector service between Toronto and Baltimore and was operating all flights system-wide with de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprop aircraft.
Accidents and incidents
- On 1 November 1988, Douglas C-47A C-FBJE crashed into Pikangikum Lake on a domestic cargo flight from Red Lake Airport to Pikangikum Airport. Two of the three people on board were killed.
- On March 10, 1989, Air Ontario Flight 1363, a Fokker F28-1000 Fellowship twin jet, registration C-FONF, crashed near Dryden, Ontario immediately after take-off en route from Dryden to Winnipeg with this flight having previously departed from Thunder Bay. The aircraft crashed after only forty-nine seconds after liftoff from the Dryden Regional Airport because it was not able to achieve enough altitude to clear the trees beyond the end of the runway due to ice and snow on the wings. This caused the death of 21 of 65 passengers and 3 of 4 crew members. Some of the survivors were able to escape from the plane on their own but the others were carried to safety. The accident happened because the APU (auxiliary power unit) did not work, so the crew had to keep one of the engines running at Dryden. However, the necessary de-icing was only authorised if both the main engines are stopped. Air Ontario's policies forbid de-icing if one of the engines was running due to the possibility of the fumes being sucked into the air conditioning system and harming those in the cabin. Furthermore, if the pilots had shut down the engines, with no APU and with Dryden airport not having the equipment required to restart the engines, the plane would have been stranded. This situation was exacerbated by an extended wait on the taxiway while priority was given to an incoming Cessna. However, it is possible that de-icing would not have prevented this accident, as the type of fluid commonly used at the time was not intended for long wait times. Additionally, the de-icing process would be completed at the terminal, and not on the runway, reducing the time that the fluid would be effective after application. Recommendations made in the accident report included use of better de-icing fluid, more frequent maintenance of Air Ontario's planes, and de-icing directly on the runway, as well as prioritizing planes that had been de-iced due to the narrow window remaining for take-off.
- "Contact." Air Ontario. Retrieved on May 21, 2009. "Head Office: Air Ontario Inc. 1000 Air Ontario Drive London, Ontario Canada N5V 3S4"
- Carruthers, Dale (26 December 2013). "Industry insiders say sky's the limit for local commercial flying interests". IFpress. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "Air Ontario Fleet Details and History". Planespotters. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "Air Ontario & Its Tragic Pair Of F28 Fellowships". Yesterdays Airlines. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
By 1975 the airline was in trouble and was purchased by a partnership including Mr James Plaxton who would later become the 100% owner.
- "Air Ontario 2001 Fleet". AirFleets.net. March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, April 26, 1987 Air Ontario/Austin Airways joint system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, Sept 1, 1984 Air Ontario route map
- http://www.airliners.net, photos of Air Ontario Fokker F28 aircraft
- http://www.departedflights.com, May 3, 1992 Air Ontario route map
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide OAG), Toronto and Montreal flight schedules
- "C-FBJE Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
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