Air Canada

Air Canada drops Max until Valentine’s Day

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 departs Vancouver International Airport in February. (photo: Brett Ballah).

Air Canada has dropped the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule until at least Valentine’s Day, the country’s largest carrier announced Wednesday.

“Today we are extending to February 14, 2020 the removal of the Boeing 737 Max from our operating schedule,” said Executive Vice President Lucie Guillemette in a statement. “We are taking this prudent step as a result of the ongoing regulatory uncertainty about the timing of the aircraft returning to service.”

The airline had two dozen Max aircraft in its fleet when the type was grounded around the world in March following a pair of fatal crashes less than five months apart. It was expecting other deliveries through the summer, which have since been delayed with no return to service date announced.

“The extension will give us scheduling predictability through the implementation of the first phase of our new reservation system and the required stability as we prepare the second phase of the system roll-out, introducing it into the airport environment,” said Guillemette. “As a result of these and other measures we are taking, including leasing two additional wide-body aircraft through at least the March Break, customers can continue to book with full confidence on Air Canada.”

Air Canada will release its quarterly results at the end of the month. Executives have warned the effect of the grounding would be felt most intensely through the busy summer months. The airline has suspended flights, redeployed aircraft, and leased extra capacity to make up the difference.

Rival Westjet has also had to cope with the removal of aircraft from its fleet, while Sunwing has removed its four Max aircraft from its winter schedule.

Boeing has already announced a $5.6 billion (U.S.) hit due to the crisis. Max planes are going through flight tests with the Federal Aviation Administration in an attempt to get it back in service.