WestJet Announces Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Plan
The airline will return their Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service in a phased and transparent manner following Transport Canada’s December 17, 2020 announcement validating the aircraft’s design changes.
On Wednesday (January 6, 2021), WestJet announced their intention to return their Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service in a phased and transparent manner. The announcement follows Transport Canada’s December 17, 2020 validation of the aircraft’s design changes and return to service requirements for Canadian carriers. The airline plans on beginning with non-commercial test flights from mid-January, and pending Transport Canada’s reopening of airspace to the 737 MAX, on January 21, 2021, WestJet will operate the aircraft on three weekly roundtrip flights between Calgary and Toronto. The airline plans on operating that schedule for four weeks as they evaluate further routes and additional frequencies. In Wednesday’s announcement, WestJet’s President and CEO, Ed Sims, said,
“As we continue working with Transport Canada on the additional Canadian requirements, our first MAX will be ready to return safely to service as of January 21. While we don't have final confirmation on when TC will open Canadian airspace to the 737 MAX aircraft, in the interest of transparency we are sharing our intent to fly once this confirmation is received.
“The FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and numerous other regulatory bodies around the world have spent more than a year examining the MAX aircraft to provide recommended changes to software, pilot training and maintenance requirements. We are confident with the changes they have mandated. In particular, the deliberate, detailed and independent scrutiny applied by Transport Canada's National Aircraft Certification team, which prescribed additional requirements to pilot procedures and training, provides further confidence in the aircraft and its safe return.
“We are dedicated to restoring guest confidence in this aircraft through our safe operation, while providing the transparency and the flexibility that some of our guests may still require. We will be forthcoming with our guests on where the MAX aircraft are flying, and we will be flexible with our change and cancel policy to ensure our guests can make their travel plans confidently.”
WestJet is committed to assuring guests are confident and comfortable in the Boeing 737 MAX return to service. The video below, courtesy of WestJet, outlines some of the pilot and maintenance team efforts that have gone into safely returning the MAX to commercial service.
Prior to the Global COVID-19 pandemic, WestJet and subsidiary regional airlines, WestJet Encore and WestJet Link, offered scheduled service to over 110 destinations across North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. WestJet and WestJet Encore continue to connect all 38 of the carrier’s Canadian domestic airports with reduced capacity, ensuring essential cargo and passenger connectivity. During these unprecedented times, the carrier has maintained their rating by Cirium as one of the top ten airlines for on-time performance in North America.