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Air Canada accelerating in-take of Airbus A321 after grounding of Boeing 737 Max

Staff Writer |
Air Canada said that it has adjusted its schedule through to April 30 to cover 98 per cent of its planned flying following Transport Canada's closure of Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations.

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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, Air Canada intends to remove 737 MAX flying from its schedule until at least July 1, 2019.

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 Vancouver and Montreal beginning March 20 until March 31.

In addition, Air Canada has leased an aircraft from Air Transat from April 1 to April 30 in order to operate the Montreal to Cancun route.

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.

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.

Air Canada 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.

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