Air Canada, WestJet expected to take financial hit from 737 Max 8 ban

The ban comes four days after the Ethiopian Airlines disaster that killed all 157 people on board

Canada’s two biggest airlines and some of their passengers are in for a turbulent ride after Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a ban on all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from Canadian airspace over safety concerns.

“For a week or two, it will be bedlam and chaos,” said Marvin Ryder, an assistant professor of marketing at McMaster University.

Garneau described the decision to ground the plane as a precautionary move that was made after a review of all the available evidence, four days after the Ethiopian Airlines disaster that killed all 157 people on board.

Air Canada has 24 Max 8s in its fleet and WestJet Airlines Inc. has 13. The carriers use the commuter planes daily to ferry passengers on routes that include Vancouver-Calgary, Honolulu-Vancouver, Vancouver-Montreal and Montreal-Los Angeles.

Ryder estimates the ban would cost the two airlines $100 million collectively in the first 10 days.

“They don’t have another 24 jets just sitting parked somewhere that they can bring into service to cover it…They’ll have to cancel flights,” he said.

Ryder explained the airlines may try to cut the number of flights on some routes and replace the Max 8 jetliners with larger planes.

The airlines’ shares reacted immediately to Garneau’s announcement, falling slightly before Air Canada’s rebounded while WestJet’s were down 1.66 per cent in midday trading. Prior to the announcement, their shares were down 3.4 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively, between Friday closing and Wednesday morning trading.

READ MORE: Canada bans Boeing 737 Max 8 plane following fatal Ethiopian crash

The suspension comes as thousands of Canadians are away on March break, stoking fears of stranded passengers and rebooking delays.

Air Canada and WestJet both said they are in the process of grounding their Max 8s.

Air Canada said it will grant affected customers a full fee waiver.

“We are working to rebook impacted customers as soon as possible but given the magnitude of our 737 Max operations which on average carry 9,000 to 12,000 customers per day, customers can expect delays in rebooking and in reaching Air Canada call centres and we appreciate our customers’ patience,” the company said in a statement.

WestJet noted that the grounding order affects just eight per cent of its 162-plane fleet.

Air Canada’s 4,000 pilots and 8,500 flight attendants said in separate statements they support Garneau’s move “to err on the side of prudence,” in the words of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Boeing Co., which makes the 737 Max 8, has seen its share price drop by more than 11 per cent in the past three days — a loss of more than US$26.6 billion.

As questions grow around the plane’s safety, Boeing rival Airbus SE has seen its stock rise nearly six per cent to US$132.45.

More than 40 countries have grounded or banned the Max 8 from their airspace since the crash over safety concerns and possible parallels to an Oct. 29 incident which saw the same type of aircraft plunge into the Java Sea, killing 189 people.

READ MORE: Canadians swamp airlines with safety concerns around Boeing 737 following crash

Aviation authorities in the U.S. have expressed continued confidence in the aircraft, despite mandating a software update following Sunday’s crash.

Chris Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley’s Glass House Estate winery has new owners

Joseph Richard Group purchases family-owned business

Mystery plane wakes up Langley residents

An aircraft circled Langley City over the weekend after midnight for about an hour

Teen who fires airsoft pistol into sports field prompts large police response

Takedown occurs Monday night on Trethewey Street in Abbotsford

Theatre group hosts ’50s-inspired jazz night fundraiser

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company is fundraising for youth programs.

Convicted pedophile from Langley raises fears after move to Ontario

Police have issued a warning about Madilyn Harks in Brampton

VIDEO: 13-year-old killed in B.C. crash that involved five kids

The children range in age from six to 17.

In a fight against cancer, Victoria man’s only stem cell match was his own donation

More mixed race and Asian stem cell donors needed, says Victoria family

MPs denounce leaked reports of Trudeau-JWR clash over Supreme Court pick

Opposition MPs called the leaks an act of desperation meant to smear Wilson-Raybould

Study says B.C.’s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction

The study involves 50 people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

VIDEO: Homicide team called in after three killed in Surrey car crash

Investigators ask public to come forward with information, dashcam video

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

UPDATED: Sailings resume after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Most Read