Westjet

Westjet extends Max grounding, finds metal for Edmonton routes

A Westjet 737-700 departs Vancouver International Airport (photo: Brett Ballah)

Canadian airline Westjet has updated its summer schedule, removing some 1,200 Boeing 737 Max8 flights through August 29. The airline says about half of those flights will be maintained, using other aircraft.

The airline says three routes – Halifax-Paris, Toronto-Kelowna, and Vancouver-Regina – will remain suspended through the end of August while those planes are redistributed to other services.

Westjet had 13 Max aircraft in the fleet when they were grounded in Canada and the United States March 13, following a pair of deadly crashes less than five months apart. Max aircraft in North America were the last to be grounded as other agencies reacted more quickly.

In all, 41 aircraft at Westjet, Air Canada, and Sunwing were affected, and no new Max planes have been delivered since then. All three airlines have scrambled to shift aircraft, and reschedule passengers onto other flights.

There is no indication when the planes will return to service, with estimates varying from several weeks to several months.

Westjet has managed to find a way to revive two routes it suspended due to the world-wide Max groundings, albeit with reduced frequencies. Starting July 3, service between Edmonton and Ottawa will be operated overnight three times a week, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Red-eye service between Edmonton and Montreal will operate four times a week, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Both routes had been scheduled for daily service until the Max crisis.

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