Air Canada and Westjet suspend flights with the Boeing 737 MAX, following restrictions by Canadian authorities

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Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau has issued a safety notice restricting commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing or overflying Canadian airspace.

My thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by the tragic aircraft accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” Garneau wrote, “following advice from the Transport Canada Civil Aviation experts, I have taken this precautionary measure.

Minister Garneau statement regarding restricting airspace to Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft

This safety notice is effective immediately, and will remain in place until further notice.

“The advice the experts have provided is based on the information they have been receiving; the requirements for new procedures and training for Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 flight crews they have already put in place; and the latest information available from the incidents.”

“It is too soon to speculate about the cause of the accident in Addis Ababa, and to make direct links to the Lion Air accident in Indonesia in October 2018; however, my department has been closely monitoring the investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority.

“Following the Lion Air accident, Transport Canada adopted the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airworthiness Directive. It also required that Canadian airlines who operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft, put new procedures in place and implement additional crew training.

“We were one of the first countries to do so and not all countries have implemented this change. And these Canadian requirements for new procedures and training to protect against the risk identified went above and beyond the measures directed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing – and above and beyond what other nations have done.

Canada has an enviable aviation safety record because of the professionalism and safety-first focus of Canada’s aviation industry – those who design and manufacture aircraft, those who maintain them, our airports, our air traffic controllers and of course those who operate and fly the aircraft. It also due to the world-class knowledge, expertise and relentless focus on safety by Transport Canada officials who are responsible for developing regulations and ensuring compliance with those regulations.

“My departmental officials continue to monitor the situation and I will not hesitate to take swift action, should we discover any additional safety issues.”

Air Canada immediately reacted to the news by issuing a press release

Air Canada confirmed today that it will comply immediately with Transport Canada’s safety notice closing Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations until further notice.

Air Canada’s cancellation and rebooking policies are in place with full fee waiver for affected customers. 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.

Customers are further advised to check the status of their flight on aircanada.com prior to going to the airport.

We fully support this decision and will continue to work with Transport Canada towards resolution of this situation as soon as possible.

WestJet complies with Transport Canada decision to ground Boeing MAX fleet

WestJet today announced that it is complying with Transport Canada’s decision to temporarily ground the Boeing 737 MAX fleet. The announcement was made by Transport Minister Marc Garneau this morning in Ottawa.

We respect the decision made by Transport Canada and are in the process of grounding the 13 MAX aircraft in our fleet,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “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.

WestJet has 162 aircraft or more than 92 per cent of its overall fleet that remain in service. Guests can book with confidence knowing that WestJet continues to fly throughout the network with the safety of guests and employees at the forefront.

WestJet is contacting impacted guests to arrange for alternate travel plans.

Caution regarding forward-looking information

Certain information set forth in this news release is forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. By its nature, forward-looking information is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, some of which are beyond WestJet’s control. The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on WestJet’s current forecasts and strategy, the expected demand environment, the utilization of our fleet, the forward-curve for jet fuel price, the expected exchange rate of the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar, agreements and bookings, but may vary due to factors including, but not limited to, length of time that Transport Canada’s decision will remain in effect, any changes to Transport Canada’s decision and/or its parameters and/or applicability, changes in guest demand, changes in fuel prices, delays in aircraft delivery, general economic conditions, competitive environment, ability to effectively implement and maintain critical systems, receipt of governmental and regulatory approvals, and other factors and risks described in WestJet’s public reports and filings which are available under WestJet’s profile at sedar.com. Readers are cautioned that undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking information as actual results may vary materially from the forward-looking information. WestJet does not undertake to update, correct or revise any forward-looking information as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable law.

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