WestJet suspends Halifax-Paris, other routes, to deal with 737 Max grounding

WestJet suspends Halifax-Paris, other routes, to deal with 737 Max grounding
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CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. has announced cancellations and schedule changes on some of its routes as the airline deals with the continued grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

Flights between Halifax and Paris have been suspended from June 3 through Aug. 2, and WestJet says guests will be rebooked either through Calgary, non-stop on its Boeing Dreamliner jets to Paris, or with one of its partner airlines through Toronto, Montreal or New York.

Flights between Edmonton and Ottawa, and Edmonton and Montreal, have also been suspended for most of June, and WestJet says guests will be rebooked through either Calgary or Toronto on WestJet-operated flights.

Service between Toronto and Kelowna, B.C., and Vancouver and Regina will also be suspended for much of June.

Transport Canada banned the 737 Max from Canadian airspace as part of an international response to the fatal March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

WestJet says in a news release that it has adjusted flight times on some routes or substituted larger aircraft with fewer flights, but that it needed to suspend a small number of routes where no alternative aircraft were available.

“Although the Max comprised over 1,000 monthly departures in our June schedules, by adjusting our aircraft lease returns and the planned installations of our premium seats, we have been able to cover more than 700 of the flight routes where the Max was originally scheduled, with other aircraft,” Chief Operating Officer Jeff Martin said Sunday in a post on the company’s website.

“I thank our WestJet teams for their dedication as they continue to work hard to get our guests to their destinations.”

Martin said WestJet remains committed to the routes and will resume flights when it can.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau closed Canadian skies to the Max 8 on March 13 over safety concerns arising from the flight path of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that bore startling parallels to a fatal Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia on Oct. 29, killing a combined 346 people.

WestJet had 13 Max 8s in operation when the planes were pulled from service, but has said it has no plans to cancel orders for 37 more Max jetliners.

Air Canada — where 24 Max 8s make up about 10 per cent of its main 243-plane fleet — said last week that the company has “protected 96 per cent of planned flying” through measures that include consolidating flights on larger planes and extending leases on aircraft planned to exit the fleet.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC, TSX:WJA)

The Canadian Press

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