‘All options on the table’, but no plans to ground 737 Max 8 in Canada: Garneau

‘All options on the table’, but no plans to ground 737 Max 8 in Canada: Garneau
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MONTREAL — Transport Minister Marc Garneau says “all options are on the table” with regard to the country’s fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, but that the government currently has no plans to order the grounding of the plane.

“We will continue to evaluate the situation,” Garneau told reporters Tuesday in French.

“All options are on the table. That could include grounding the planes, but at the same time I will evaluate all possibilities and not jump to conclusions before we can clearly evaluate the situation.”

Garneau’s comments came within minutes of announcements from the U.K., Germany, France and Ireland that they were grounding or closing airspace to the new Boeing plane involved in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster.

The moves come on the heels of similar moves by Australia, Singapore, Ethiopia, Indonesia and China.

It was not clear immediately what the growing wave of groundings and air space restrictions would mean for Air Canada and WestJet, both of which have service to Europe.

Meanwhile, customers looking to cancel or change their plans in order to avoid flying on a 737 Max 8 are running into resistance.

Flight Centre travel agency has said Canadian airlines are not waiving flight-change or cancellation fees for passengers who want to switch to another aircraft.

The stance from Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., which collectively tout 37 Max 8s in their fleets, comes amid a wave of requests from worried travellers so far excluded from goodwill policies.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 people on board — including 18 Canadians — has raised concerns over parallels to a Lion Air crash of the same model of aircraft in Indonesia last October that killed 189 people.

Garneau said Monday that his department is working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority to determine if action is required. Boeing said the FAA has told the U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer it must install safety-related software updates to the 737 Max 8s.

Air Canada and WestJet did not respond immediately to requests for comment on fee waiving.

Chris Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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