The airline was established in 1981 and started operations on 17 May 1981 as Corse Air International. It was founded by the Corsican Rossi family; in 1990 it was acquired by Nouvelles Frontières, a French tour operator, and the name was changed to "Corsair". Worldwide traffic rights were obtained in 1991. In 2000 TUI AG, one of the world's leading tour operator groups, took over Nouvelles Frontières.
In 2004, Corsair aircraft were repainted with the colours of TUI, blue fuselage with the TUI-logo, like its sister airlines. At the end of 2005 the TUI Group, decided to rename all its affiliated airlines TUIfly. As an interim step Corsair aircraft were repainted with Corsairfly markings, although all airlines in the group were expected to have adopted the common TUIfly brand by 2008.
The airline holds the record for most seats on a passenger aircraft (587 seats, on its Boeing 747-400s).
In 2008, the airline announced its intention to expand its medium-haul network to the Mediterranean and its long-haul network to Canada and the United States (where it regularly flew in the 1990s), including the establishment of codeshare agreements with Air Canada. The first destination in this expansion was Miami in June 2010, but the rest of the plan was later abandoned due to a change in the airline's strategy.
A Boeing 747-400 in the new livery
On 27 May 2010, Corsairfly announced a plan called "Takeoff 2012", aimed to modernise the airline. This plan includes a reduction of workforce by 25%, the replacement of 3 Boeing 747-400 by 2 Airbus A330-300 from TUI AG, the refurbishment of all aircraft cabins, leaving the charter flights market, and consolidation of routes (including dropping Kenya, Dominican Republic, Québec City, Moncton and Israel). As of October 2010, the plan was pending union approval.
On 22 March 2012, the airline announced it would be changing its name to Corsair International and unveiled the new corporate image inline with the planned operational changes.