Air Canada announced it has removed the Boeing 737 MAX from its flight schedule until Feb. 14, 2020, citing uncertainty around the aircraft's return to service.
"We are extending to Feb. 14, 2020, the removal of the Boeing 737 MAX from our operating schedule. We are taking this prudent step as a result of the ongoing regulatory uncertainty about the timing of the aircraft returning to service,” said Lucie Guillemette, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Air Canada.
The decision is based on operational considerations for the airline, as it launches a new reservation system beginning next month. “The extension will give us scheduling predictability through the implementation of the first phase of our new reservation system and the required stability as we prepare the second phase of the system rollout, introducing it into the airport environment," said Guillemette.
Boeing’s 737 MAX planes have been grounded by airlines worldwide since March, due to a pair of fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which claimed the lives of 346 people.
Air Canada, which has 24 of the 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet, is the first North American airline to extend the cancellation until February, as the grounding drags on longer than expected. Among other U.S. airlines that operate the MAX, Southwest Airlines has canceled flights through Jan. 5, and American Airlines has canceled flights until Jan. 15, and United Airlines announced just last week that it was extending cancellations until Jan. 6.
Despite this setback, Air Canada assures travelers that they need not worry. “As a result of these and other measures we are taking, including leasing two additional wide-body aircraft through at least the March Break, customers can continue to book with full confidence on Air Canada," said Guillemette.