Westjet suspends several summer routes as Max impact grows

A Westjet Boeing 737 lands at Vancouver International Airport (photo: Brett Ballah).

Westjet has suspended a handful of routes as the impact of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max takes a growing bite out of summer schedules, the airline announced Sunday.

Edmonton is the hardest hit destination as two seasonal routes – to Ottawa and Montreal – are suspended from June 3 to July 3. Other routes will also be suspended in June as the airline copes with the loss of 13 Max aircraft.

Halifax is also affected, losing non-stop service to Paris through to the end of July. Customers are being offered the chance to connect through Calgary, or on Air France flights through Toronto and Montreal. It’s the third European connection Halifax has lost in a few short weeks, including Air Canada flights to London-Heathrow, and Icelandair flights to Reykjavik.

OriginDestinationSuspension dates
EdmontonOttawaJune 3 – July 3
EdmontonMontrealJune 3 – July 3
TorontoKelownaJune 3 – June 27
VancouverReginaJune 3 – July 3
HalifaxParisJune 3 – August 2

Westjet says it remains committed to the routes and will resume them when it can.

The Max accounted for roughly 1,000 Westjet flights in June, and the airline says it has been able to maintain about 70% of that schedule, by adjusting aircraft leases and deferring updates on some aircraft until the crisis passes.

Westjet’s schedule adjustment follows a similar pattern at Air Canada. Reports suggest the Max could be cleared to fly again as early as August, though no date has been set.

“Regardless of when the aircraft are approved to return to service,” said Westjet in a statement, “we will provide nothing less than 100 per cent assurance to our guests and WestJetters that all processes, procedures and decisions will to be made with safety at the forefront.”

Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded in Canada, and around the world, March 13 after a pair of fatal accidents less than five months apart. In each case, a flight control software is being investigated as a contributing factor in the crashes. A total of 41 aircraft were affected in Canada.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said this week the manufacturer had completed 135 flights of the Max with newly updated software, and is set for a certification flight in the coming days or weeks.

It will then be up to airline regulators around the world to decide if they’re satisfied with the fix, and when to allow passengers back on board the Max. The Federal Aviation Administration has convened a meeting for May 23.