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TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: Zoom Airlines

Photo provided by Craig Sunter from Manchester, UK (MAN 26/8/06) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2002, Scottish brothers John and Hugh Boyle founded Zoom Airlines to fill a gap in the Canadian leisure market. The brothers founded the airline with previous experience from their homeland. The two had founded a successful holiday company, named Falcon Holidays. This became a success in Scotland and was eventually sold off to a larger UK holiday company. After selling off their first venture, the brothers started Direct Holidays. This too became successful, and at one point was the largest direct sell holiday provider in the UK. Again, the brothers sold off the company, this time in 1998, to MyTravel for £84 million. 

After this, Hugh moved to Canada and founded a holiday travel company there. He would eliminate the travel agents from the booking procedure and pass the savings on to the holiday maker. The brothers took this process one step further by founding Zoom Airlines in 2002. The airline was based in the Canadian capital of Ottawa and initially operated with a leased Airbus A320 from Monarch Airlines, as well as a Boeing 767. The airline focused on popular Canadian holiday destinations, such as Ft. Lauderdale, Barbados, and Jamaica. The airline also operated transatlantic service to destinations in the UK and Continental Europe.

The A320 was returned to Monarch in 2003 and the airline expanded by adding additional Boeing 767 aircraft, and even began adding the Boeing 757 to the fleet. All the aircraft in the fleet were named after Canadian cities such as the City of Toronto or the City of Calgary. During the summer of 2006, John Boyle founded a sister airline in the UK that shared the Zoom name. For the winter 2006 season, Zoom codeshared with British airline Flyglobespan.com. Zoom’s operated Flyglobespan’s three times weekly service from Manchester to Toronto. In return, Zoom’s flights from Toronto to their destinations in the UK were available to book from the Flyglobespan website.

Trouble for the airline, like many failed airlines in this time, started in the middle of 2008. On August 27, the airline canceled their scheduled flight from Calgary to London Gatwick because the lessor had canceled the lease agreement for the aircraft. The fueling service in Calgary also refused to fuel the plane as Zoom held substantial debts to the fueling company. The next day a Boeing 757 was held at Glasgow Airport, as the airline had failed to pay air traffic control bills. A Zoom aircraft was also impounded at Cardiff Airport due to a failure to pay fees. Shortly after these aircraft were impounded, the airline announced that they had entered administration and would be ceasing operations effective immediately. The airline’s British sister also ceased operations shortly after.

In the beginning of 2009, there was hope the airline would be resurrected as FlyXpo after Canadian financial firm, Globe Span Capital purchased the remnants of Zoom Airlines. A website was launched in May of 2009, but the plan for the airline’s return never materialized. The abrupt end to Zoom left many people stranded and ruined many holidays. Unfortunately, the airline became another victim of the 2008 financial crisis and the skyrocketing price of fuel at the time.  

Daniel Morley


  • Daniel Morley

    Daniel has always had aviation in his life; from moving to the United States when he was two, to family vacations across the U.S., and back to his native England. He currently resides in South Florida and attends Nova Southeastern University, studying Human Factors in Aviation. Daniel has his Commercial Certificate for both land and sea, and hopes to one day join the major airlines.

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