Air Canada is the latest airline to remove 737 Max aircraft from its scheduled flights into August with no sign of how long regulators will keep the aircraft grounded.
The Montreal-based airline has kept 24 737 Max 8 aircraft in storage since grounding the fleet in March, according to Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer. The carrier has compensated for the absence of the Max by flying passengers on some of their other 163 aircraft currently in service. Air Canada was expecting to receive another 12 aircraft for a total fleet of 36 Max aircraft in July, but deliveries of the 737 Max have been paused by Boeing.
As regulators coordinate with Boeing on safety concerns with the Max, Air Canada has removed the Max from its schedules “until at least 1 August.” Air Canada says it will only return that fleet to service once regulators lift the ban and the airline makes its own safety assessment. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, which also operate fleets of 737 Max aircraft, have removed those aircraft from their flight schedules through August.
Since the grounding in March, Air Canada has maintained 96% of its planned flights by “optimising the current fleet, consolidating flights on larger aircraft and extending leases on aircraft planned to exit the fleet,” says Air Canada’s chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette.
“By leveraging our deep, global network and through arrangements with Star Alliance partner Lufthansa and other airlines to provide capacity, we now have secured sufficient additional capacity to meet our customers' travel needs this summer," Guillemette says in a statement.
The carrier has extended leases for three Airbus A320 and three Embraer 190 aircraft which were scheduled to exit the fleet to provide more capacity for passengers during the Max grounding. Air Canada is also accelerating the addition of six Airbus A321 aircraft from Wow Air into its fleet. Four of those A321 aircraft will be equipped with wi-fi and enter the fleet in May while the remaining two will enter service later.
Air Canada's Montreal-Frankfurt flight for the month of May will be operated by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa. As of 15 June, Qatar Airways will operate one Airbus A330-200 on daily flights between Montreal and Barcelona and one Airbus A330-200 daily flight between Montreal and Paris. Omni Air International as of 2 June will fly one Boeing 767-200ER aircraft between Vancouver and Honolulu and Maui.
Some seasonal route launches have been delayed during the groundings, including the Vancouver to Boston route until 20 June. Other routes including flights from Halifax and St. John's to London have been temporarily suspended to accommodate other flights.
Air Canada is also offering a rebooking policy with full fee waiver and a refund option for customers affected by the grounding of the airline’s 737 Max fleet.
Regulators around the world have grounded the 737 Max because of similarities between two crashes within five months of each other during which 346 people died. Boeing says it is coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration and will soon begin the process to certify an update to flight control software that was linked with the two crashes.