Air Canada Updates Schedule Following 737 MAX Grounding
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
Air Canada says it has adjusted its schedule through to 30APR to cover 98% of its planned flying following Transport Canada's closure of Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations.
In compliance with the safety notice, Air Canada has grounded its 24 737 MAX aircraft and Boeing has advised that deliveries of its 737 MAX are currently suspended. Air Canada was expecting six new aircraft in March and April.
Air Canada is now updating its May schedule to further optimize its fleet and re-accommodate customers. Because the timeline for the return to service of the 737 MAX is unknown, for planning purposes and to provide customers certainty for booking and travel, AC intends to remove 737 MAX flying from its schedule until at least 1JUL, 2019.
"The Boeing 737 MAX accounted for 6% of Air Canada's total flying, but there is a domino effect from removing the 737s from our fleet that impacts the schedule and ultimately will impact some customers. We have been working very hard to minimize that impact," said Lucie Guillemette, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.
"To bring certainty to our schedule for our customers when booking and travelling, we are revising our schedule until July and we have taken several steps to continue delivering substantially all of our planned capacity through our global network.
"Customers who have travel plans between now and July can be reassured that we will keep them informed every step of the way as we revise our schedule. Customers can continue to book and travel on Air Canada with full confidence," said Guillemette.
Among the measures taken by Air Canada:
To mitigate the impact, Air Canada has been substituting different aircraft on 737 MAX routes. This includes flying routes with similar-sized or larger aircraft. To help provide this replacement flying, the carrier has extended leases for aircraft which were scheduled to exit the fleet.
Air Canada is also accelerating the in-take of recently acquired Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Airlines into its fleet and has hired other carriers to provide immediate extra capacity.
For example, Air Transat has been chartered on a temporary basis to operate one daily frequency between YVR & YUL beginning 20MAR through 31MAR. In addition, AC has leased an aircraft from TS from 1-30APR in order to operate the YUL-CUN route.
AC has implemented a number of route changes to date, either changing operating times or substituting larger aircraft with fewer frequencies on routes operated more frequently by smaller aircraft.
In some cases, it has deployed Air Canada Rouge aircraft to serve mainline routes. The airline is also currently finalizing a new routing for the return leg of its Toronto-Delhi service, which continues to be impacted by the closure of Pakistani airspace. This flight will remain non-stop between Toronto and Delhi but now stop in Vancouver rather than Copenhagen on the return leg.
In a small number of cases, Air Canada has temporarily suspended until further notice service on certain 737 MAX routes where alternative aircraft are not presently available. This includes flights from Halifax and St. John's to London Heathrow, for which it is re-accommodating customers over its Toronto and Montreal hubs.
AC says it remains committed to these routes and will resume service as soon as possible. It also includes seasonal flights from Vancouver to Kona, Lihue and Calgary-Palm Springs, with customers re-accommodated on other routings.
As changes are finalized in the flight schedule, customers whose flight times or flight numbers have changed can expect to receive an email detailing their updated itinerary. This information is also available in My Bookings on the Air Canada app or Air Canada website.
Customers are advised, whether they have booked directly through Air Canada or not, to ensure their contact information is on their booking to facilitate communication of any flight changes.
Customers who have booked flights through an agent are being advised to contact them for immediate assistance.
Additional information, including specific changes to the April 737 MAX operation is provided here and will be updated as warranted.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.