Joining rival Air Canada, Westjet Airlines has removed the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule until the new year, reflecting ongoing uncertainty about the type’s return to service.
The Max was grounded around the world in March following a pair of deadly accidents. Boeing is fixing a computer programme on the plane suspected of contributing to the crashes.
Westjet had a dozen Max planes in the fleet when the grounding was announced. The airline says the type’s withdrawal from service has only caused it to suspend 14 out of 700 daily flights – roughly two per cent.
Flights from the Prairies to the United States will take the biggest hit, with almost all transborder flights from Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg being suspended until at least January 5, 2020.
|Saskatoon – Phoenix||suspended|
|Regina – Phoenix||suspended|
|Regina – Orlando||suspended|
|Winnipeg – Phoenix||suspended|
|Winnipeg – Palm Springs||reduction|
|Winnipeg – Las Vegas||suspended|
|Toronto – La Guardia||weekend reduction|
|Toronto – Phoenix||suspended|
Westjet service from Alberta to Hawaii is also taking a hit. Calgary to Maui will see 12 fewer flights, though to make up the seats, Westjet will fly a larger Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route. Former Max flights from Edmonton to Maui and Honolulu and Calgary to Honolulu are suspended.
Instead, Westjet is adding 24 weekly flights from Vancouver to both Honolulu and Maui with shorter-range Boeing 737NG aircraft to make up the difference.
The Prairies continue to bear the brunt of the cancellations to other sun destinations. Winnipeg sees its service to Mexico suspended through the busy Christmas holiday season, while Regina-Mexico service faces significant reductions.
Westjet says it is advising affected passengers, and offering passengers “choice and flexibility” as they re-book or re-route through other cities.
There is no timeline for the Max’s return to service. Boeing estimates recertification flights will take place in the coming weeks. Depending on any training needed, it could take several months for airlines to return their Max planes to service after that.
Airlines have already begun talks with Boeing about compensation for the troubles, though no details have been released. Boeing has taken a financial charge of $5.6 billion (U.S.) to deal with the crisis.