MONTREAL — With the continued closure of Canadian airspace to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, Air Canada is anticipating that it will cover 98% of affected routes through to May 31.
According to the carrier, this will be achieved through a series of mitigation measures, schedule changes and temporary route suspensions, “doing everything possible to mitigate the effects of the 737 MAX grounding,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.
“We appreciate our customers’ patience and flexibility as we continue to work on transporting them safely to their destinations,” she said. “By adjusting our schedule for the month of May, we are providing certainty for our customers so they can continue to book and travel with confidence on Air Canada.”
In compliance with the safety notice issued by Transport Canada on March 13, Air Canada grounded its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing has advised that deliveries of its 737 MAX are currently suspended. Air Canada was expecting six new aircraft in March and April.
The airline is now updating its June schedule to re-accommodate customers. Since it still unknown when the 737 MAX will return to service, Air Canada has removed the aircraft from its schedule until at least July 1, 2019.
Here is an overview of the measures taken by Air Canada:
Air Canada has been substituting different aircraft on 737 MAX routes. This includes flying routes with similar-sized or larger aircraft. As such, the carrier has extended leases for aircraft that were scheduled to exit the fleet. Air Canada is also accelerating the intake of recently acquired Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Air into its fleet.
WORKING WITH PARTNER AIRLINES
Air Canada has worked with other carriers to provide immediate extra capacity and provide alternative options to passengers. For example, Montreal-Frankfurt flight for the month of May will be operated by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.
SCHEDULE CHANGES UNTIL JUNE 30
The airline 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. For example, starting in May, two daily flights between Toronto-Calgary have been consolidated onto one larger Airbus A330, leaving nine daily flights.
In some cases, seasonal route launches have been delayed. This includes: Toronto-Portland, which will now start July 1 instead of May 24; Vancouver-Boston, which will now start June 16 instead of June 1; and Calgary-Halifax which will now start July 1 instead of May 18. The seasonal start of Toronto-Shannon and the new Montreal-Bordeaux service will both be delayed until early July.
In addition, selected frequencies on domestic routes such as Toronto-Edmonton will be served by Air Canada Rouge aircraft.
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. These routes are now suspended to May 31.
Customers whose flight times or flight numbers have changed can expect to receive an email with their updated itinerary. This information is also available in My Bookings on the Air Canada app or Air Canada website.
Air Canada has implemented a flexible rebooking policy with full free waiver and a refund option for affected customers. Customers originally scheduled to travel on a 737 MAX can call Air Canada at 1-833-354-5963 for information within 72 hours of their planned flight. Additional information, including specific changes to the April and May 737 MAX operation is provided at the special page, https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/book/travel-news-and-updates/2019/737-airspace-closure.html, which will be updated as warranted.