Air Canada is removing the Boeing 737 Max from its flying schedule until Feb. 14, citing “regulatory uncertainty” that will affect thousands of passengers. An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is shown next to a gate at Trudeau Airport in Montreal on March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Air Canada scrubs 737 Max from schedule until Feb. 14 amid lingering uncertainty

The country’s biggest airline had earlier scrubbed the 24 jetliners from schedules until Jan. 8

Air Canada will keep the Boeing 737 Max off its flying schedule until Feb. 14, citing “regulatory uncertainty” nearly a year after authorities across the globe banned the plane from the skies following two fatal crashes in five months.

The country’s biggest airline had earlier scrubbed the 24 jetliners from schedules until Jan. 8. For now, major U.S. carriers hope to welcome the Max back into the fleet in early to mid-January.

The Boeing Co. has said it expects federal authorities to greenlight software changes to the aircraft, but regulators say they don’t have a set timeline.

Air Canada’s chief commercial officer said the extension until Valentine’s Day will give Air Canada “scheduling predictability” as it rolls out its new reservation system.

“We are taking this prudent step as a result of the ongoing regulatory uncertainty about the timing of the aircraft returning to service,” Lucie Guillemette said in a release Wednesday.

The airline said it will lease two more wide-body aircraft at least through March Break to help compensate for the absence of the Max planes, which make up about 20 per cent of Air Canada’s narrow-body fleet and would typically carry about 11,000 passengers per day.

WestJet announced in September it was removing the 737 Max from its schedule until Jan. 5.

Sunwing Airlines Inc. said in August that its four Maxes will be absent from the rotation until mid-May, with some 3,000 flights having been affected over the summer alone.

Last month, Air Canada’s chief financial officer said he expected that Transport Canada may not approve the plane for takeoff until early next year.

Michael Rousseau noted his airline doesn’t fly other 737 models, giving it an unenviably “unique” position relative to North American competitors as Air Canada’s Max pilots sit relatively idle while those at rival carriers find more productive deployment in the cockpit of other 737 jets.

Air Canada faced a tougher third quarter because of the grounding, forecasting a two per cent decline in capacity from a year ago.

About 26 Max 8s were initially slated for delivery between the March grounding and mid-2020, but have been partly pushed back. The Airbus A320s they were set to replace are less fuel-efficient, piling on more costs.

Air Canada, like WestJet, has also had to lease aircraft and cancel some routes to compensate for the Max 8’s absence.

READ MORE: Boeing, FAA both faulted in certification of the 737 Max

READ MORE: ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ a phrase of the past on board some airplanes

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke Food Bank takes steps towards ‘new norm’

Need for Sooke Food Bank nearly doubles since beginning of pandemic

University of Victoria chemist works to create at-home COVID-19 test

The test uses a sample of saliva, results are then read by an app

Langford Legion hesitantly re-opens with new hours

President says doors open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.

Playgrounds reopen in Sooke

The move comes two months after facilities were shut down during the height of COVID-19 pandemic

Sooke food security initiative grows local interest

Around 30 grow-at-home kits handed out to Sooke residents

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Vancouver Island grizzlies: moving in, or just passing through?

Lack of data makes seeming increase in grizzly sightings on the North Island an open question

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Most Read