Transport Canada has suspended use of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft in Canadian airspace leaving the US as the only country where the aircraft is now flying.
The government of Canada said it has made the move as new data suggests the flight profile of the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft which crashed on Sunday showed “similarities” to that of the Lion Air aircraft which crashed on 29 October. Air Canada operates 24, WestJet 13 and Sunwing Airlines four.
Air Canada said it will “comply immediately” with Transport Canada’s safety notice closing Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations until further notice.
The airline added: “We are working to rebook impacted customers as soon as possible but given the magnitude of our 737 Max operations which on average carry nine to twelve thousand customers per day, customers can expect delays in rebooking and in reaching Air Canada call centres and we appreciate our customers’ patience.”
WestJet president and chief executive officer, Ed Sims said: “We respect the decision made by Transport Canada and are in the process of grounding the 13 MAX aircraft in our fleet.
“This decision has an impact on the travel plans of our WestJet guests and we ask for understanding as we work to rebook all guests affected as quickly as possible.”
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand also today decided to ban the aircraft from its airspace, forcing Thai Lion Air to ground its fleet of three Boeing 737 Max 9.
The suspension comes in wake of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crash on Sunday that killed 157 people, leaves only American Airlines with 24, and Southwest Airlines with 34 as the last two airlines operating the 737 Max 8, although United Airlines (14) and Copa Airlines (six) operate the larger 737 Max 9.
Aviation regulators that have ordered airline to suspend use of the 737 Max include Australia, China, Hong Kong, Europe – including Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany and the UK, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Poland, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and United Arab Emirates.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to maintain that the aircraft is safe to fly and there is “no basis” to suspend its use and the thoughts are echoed by 737 Max manufacturer Boeing.
There were reportedly 371 737 Max aircraft in operation globally prior Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash.