The grounding of all Canada’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft is continuing to impact travel during the busy March break season.
On Thursday, a day after Canadian officials prohibited the aircraft from flying in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, WestJet said that 11 of its flights were cancelled, affecting about 1,200 travellers.
The airline said in a statement that three-quarters of those passengers are being re-booked on same-day flights, while most of the others will be re-booked on Friday, with only a “handful” flying on Saturday.
WestJet said it will be rebooking passengers until Monday, when it expects to have its scheduled rejigged to accommodate the removal of the MAX 8 aircraft.
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The airline, which has 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, said 93 per cent of its fleet is unaffected by Canada’s move to temporarily ground the aircraft.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced Wednesday that the aircraft would be banned from Canadian airspace after new data was uncovered suggesting similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash, in which 157 people died, and the crash of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia in October.
The following WestJet flights are cancelled Thursday
- Flight 119 Calgary/Vancouver
- Flight 120 Vancouver/Calgary
- Flight 230 Calgary/Winnipeg
- Flight 435 Toronto/Edmonton
- Flight 442 Edmonton/Toronto
- Flight 546 Edmonton/Toronto
- Flight 653 Toronto/Calgary
- Flight 664 Calgary/Toronto
- Flight 665 Toronto/Calgary
- Flight 676 Calgary/Toronto
- Flight 706 Vancouver/Toronto
Sunwing Airlines, which has four MAX 8 aircraft, said Thursday it won’t be cancelling any flights as a result of the ban.
“We are finalizing a revised schedule to accommodate the temporary removal of our MAX aircraft from service and we appreciate the patience of our retail partners and customers while we work to communicate these updates,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
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Twenty-four of Air Canada‘s 400 aircraft are grounded as a result of the temporary ban on the Boeing 737 MAX.
A representative for the airline could not specifically say how many of its flights or passengers were impacted on Thursday, but said efforts are underway to minimize the disruption as much as possible.
The airline says it’s taking steps such as optimizing the use of the rest of its fleet and accommodating customers on other airlines.
“From YYC for instance, our flights to Cancun and Palm Springs have been rescheduled with a larger aircraft, and we have been able to add some flights operated by Jazz between Calgary and Vancouver,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Our other flights, we are working very hard to accommodate customers.”
Air Canada said its 737 MAX flights carry between 9,000 and 12,000 passengers a day, so customers can expect delays in re-booking and reaching customer service.
The company has set up a dedicated information line (1-833-354-5963) for passengers scheduled to fly on a 737 MAX within 72 hours. Aeroplan members can call 1-844-459-7860.
The airline said its Halifax-London and St. John’s-London routes are cancelled, but customers are being rerouted through Montreal and Toronto.
–With files from Rahul Kalvapalle
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