Direct flights from Nanaimo to Canada’s most populous city will take off later than expected.
Air Canada has moved the start of its Nanaimo-Toronto seasonal service to July 1. Flights between the two cities were to begin on June 20.
The airline’s low-cost subsidiary, Air Canada Rouge, will operate the route using an Airbus A319 as originally planned.
Angela Mah, Air Canada spokesperson, said in an e-mail that customers who booked flights prior to July 1 will be contacted for alternative travel arrangements or a refund. She said the delay is due to ongoing fleet adjustments following the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.
“This is as a result of the ongoing adjustments Air Canada has undertaken as a result of the grounding of the 737 Max fleet, which has necessitated the juggling of our overall schedule to optimize and balance the fleet and schedule,” she said. “Though the Nanaimo-Toronto service was not planned with the 737 Max, we have implemented a number of schedule changes including the planned delay of some summer seasonal routes as as part of our overall schedule mitigation plans.”
Mike Hooper, the Nanaimo Airport president and chief executive officer, said the airport is aware of Air Canada’s decision and is looking forward to its return in July.
Transport Canada banned all variants of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft from entering Canadian Airspace in March following the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 due to safety concerns. The Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed more than 150 people including 18 Canadians, came a few months after a Lion Air Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea near Indonesia. The cause in accidents remain undetermined and concerns have since been raised about the design of the Max 8.
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Air Canada has 24 MAX aircraft in its fleet and has since been making major scheduling and fleet adjustments such as accelerating the intake of recently acquired Airbus A321s.
Canada’s other major airline, WestJet, which has 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet, has also been forced to make adjustments and temporarily suspend a handful of routes.
In a statement to the News Bulletin, WestJet said their Nanaimo operations are not impacted by Transport Canada’s decision and that flights to Vancouver and Calgary are scheduled as normal.
It is unknown when Transport Canada will lift their ban on the Boeing 737 Max series.
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