When Canada grounded 41 Boeing Max aircraft Wednesday, it left a hole the airlines had to scramble to fill. Together, the airlines scheduled approximately 100 flights aboard Max 8 aircraft. In this case, thousands of passengers were affected.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau was clear that it would be up to passengers and airlines to figure out how to respond to the decision.
Air Canada and Westjet both use the type on longer routes, with an average flight length of more than 3,000 km, and four hours in the air. Sunwing had earlier decided on its own to stop Max flights.
For Air Canada, the Max planes flew routes as short as Toronto-Montreal (509 km), and as long as Vancouver-Cancun (almost 4,500 km). In all, Air Canada scheduled three Max services between Vancouver and Hawaii on Wednesday. Most of the airline’s Max flights departed or arrived at the airline’s three hubs in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
Air Canada ordered 61 Max aircraft in 2014, and has been aggressive integrating 24 Max 8s into its fleet. They came to represent 12 per cent of Air Canada mainline planes, and six per cent of 392 airplanes in the whole fleet, which includes regional planes and the Rouge brand.
On Wednesday, Air Canada planned 56 Max flights on 23 routes, carrying between nine and 12,000 people. Domestic passengers were expected to be booked on other flights, while other planes, or other airlines, would have to sub in for U.S. and international destinations.
Westjet, for its part, planned 34 Max flights Wednesday on 12 routes Wednesday. The longest was between Calgary and Maui, almost 5,000 km. The shortest was between Abbotsford and Calgary, clocking in at a mere 640 km.
While the decision to ban the aircraft meant travel plans for thousands of people were put into question, Garneau was clear the government would not help.
“There are no guarantees, these things happen,” said Garneau.