AC Releases Revised Sked Through 1AUG With MAX Adjustments
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
With its fleet of 24 737 MAX planes still grounded indefinitely, Air Canada has further adjusted its schedule through to 1AUG and taken other measures, including obtaining additional capacity.
"With the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, Air Canada is prudently adjusting its schedule and is finalizing arrangements for additional aircraft to transport customers to their destinations,” said Lucie Guillemette, EVP and CCO at Air Canada.
“Through these measures, we are giving customers certainty to book their summer travel plans on Air Canada with full confidence."
Guillemette says that since the Boeing 737 MAX fleet was grounded on 13MAR, AC has successfully protected 96% of planned flying through adjustments including optimizing the current fleet, consolidating flights on larger aircraft and extending leases on aircraft planned to exit the fleet.
“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," said Guillemette.
As well as the ongoing grounding, Boeing has suspended deliveries of 737 MAX aircraft. Air Canada was expecting to receive another 12 aircraft for a total fleet of 36 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in July.
Mitigating The Impact
To mitigate the impact, Air Canada has substituted different aircraft on 737 MAX routes, similar-sized or larger aircraft. To help provide this replacement flying, the carrier has extended leases for three Airbus A320 and three Embraer 190 aircraft which were scheduled to exit the fleet.
AC is also accelerating the in-take of six Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Air into its fleet. The first four of these aircraft, despite being less than three years old, are being reconfigured, equipped with Wi-Fi and repainted in Air Canada Rouge livery and will begin entering the fleet in May, a month earlier than scheduled. The remaining two will enter service later.
Working With Other Carriers
AC is working with other airlines to provide immediate extra capacity and provide alternative options to customers. Air Canada's Montreal-Frankfurt flight for the month of May will be operated by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.
AC is now finalizing capacity agreements with other airlines to temporarily operate flights on its behalf, subject to government approvals and conclusion of final documentation.
Beginning 15JUN, 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. Beginning 2JUN, Omni Air International will operate flights with one Boeing 767-200ER aircraft between Vancouver and Honolulu and Maui.
The airline has implemented a number of route changes to date, either adjusting operating days and times, substituting larger aircraft with fewer frequencies, or re-deploying Air Canada Rouge aircraft on additional routes.
For example, Air Canada's Montreal-Bordeaux flights will be operated three times weekly with Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, Montreal-Los Angeles will operate once daily with larger Airbus A330 aircraft, Toronto and Montreal flights to Keflavik will operate with Air Canada Rouge A319s, and one of two daily flights between Toronto and Charlottetown will be operated with an all-Economy Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321, among other adjustments.
Some seasonal route launches have been delayed. This includes the new Montreal-Bordeaux seasonal route that will begin 1JUL instead of 15JUN, and the seasonal Vancouver-Boston route which will commence 20JUN instead of 1JUN.
In a small number of cases, Air Canada has temporarily suspended 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. While these flights are suspended to 31JUL, Air Canada says it remains fully committed to these routes.
Other seasonal non-stop routes such as Toronto-Shannon, Toronto-Abbotsford and Calgary-London, ON are being suspended for the 2019 summer season to optimize Air Canada's entire fleet throughout the schedule. Customers will be re-accommodated on alternate flights. AC plans to resume these routes in the 2020 summer season.
As 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, Air Canada has now removed 737 MAX flying from its schedule until at least 1AUG.
AC says final decisions on returning the 737 MAX to service will be based on its own safety assessment following the lifting of government safety notices and approval by international regulatory authorities.
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.