Boeing. (Bloomberg photo by Matthew Lloyd)

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

WestJet Airlines plans to stick with deliveries of Boeing 737 Max aircraft once regulators approve the plane for re-entry into service.

The Calgary-based airline says it won’t follow the lead of Indonesia’s flag carrier, which cancelled its multibillion-dollar order for 49 Max 8 jets, citing a loss of confidence after two deadly crashes in the past six months.

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13, but Boeing has suspended all future deliveries.

Spokeswoman Lauren Stewart says the 37 remaining deliveries in its order won’t take place until the grounding is lifted and it thoroughly evaluates any upgrades.

“If the grounding has been lifted and the aircraft is approved for re-entry into service by all relevant regulatory bodies, we will take all deliveries as intended,” she wrote in an email.

Stewart said the narrow-body planes remain “a vital part of the fleet,” having performed “safely, reliably and efficiently” since 2017.

“WestJet remains unrelenting in putting safety at the forefront and will thoroughly evaluate processes, procedures and any further required training before these aircraft once again take to the skies.”

Air Canada declined to say if it still has faith in the plane.

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

“Right now our focus is minimizing the impact on our customers and as deliveries are suspended we have no further comments to share on our fleet plans,” stated spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur.

The Montreal-based airline has 24 Max 8 with 169 seats. That’s from an order for 61 planes, including 11 Max 9s. Last month, it forecast that 36 Max 8s would be in its fleet by the end of this year and 50 by the end of 2020.

Sunwing didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Garuda Indonesia is the first airline to cancel an order for the troubled planes.

J.P. Morgan transportation analyst Seth Seifman believes that most major players in global air travel would like to see the plane flying again soon.

But he said it can’t take off again until investigators have reached preliminary conclusions about the March 10 Ethiopian Air crash and similarities with the Lion Air crash last October, which he said could come as early as next week.

“If the conclusion is that from an aircraft point of view, MCAS (computer system) was the main contributing factor, then the fix Boeing has developed post-Lion, combined with enhanced training, would be appropriate in this case as well,” he wrote in a report.

However, if the investigation points to a different explanation then Boeing would have to address another cause.

“The worst case for ending the grounding is an inconclusive result,” he added.

Regulatory approval could be delayed because foreign regulators, including the Canadians and Europeans, have already discussed conducting their own assessments of Boeing’s MCAS fix separate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

“We believe it is in everyone’s interest to avoid a prolonged situation where the U.S. and perhaps a handful of other regulators have lifted the grounding but other important authorities have not since this could be a step toward a less competent, less efficient, and more politicized global regulatory regime over time.”

Seifman said customers could stop paying advances on the plane because of uncertainty over delivery dates. He estimates the aircraft sells for about US$55 million despite a US$120 million list price.

Airline compensation will likely remain unknown because of confidential contractual terms. But he assumes Boeing will pay some compensation — likely in future purchase terms than in a refund — to customers facing serious challenges from the global grounding and to avoid future legal action.

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Castlegar teens rescue man from river

Will Watt and Shay LaFayette helped save a fisherman from the Kootenay River.

Carfentanil found for first time in Castlegar

Killer opiod found in local illegal drug market

Rossland’s Seven Summits school gets grant to grow global presence

Centre for Learning hopes to triple the number of international students it has

Rural dividend grants awarded in Kootenay West

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy made the grant announcements in Trail on Thursday

Rossland skiier places third at U19 Canadian Ski Cross

Rossland’s Sage Stefani finished out a successful season.

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

PHOTOS: Inside the ‘shoe house’ in Northern B.C.

A rare look inside the famous Kitseguecla Lake Road shoe house, with a tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Thieves steal five of Seven Dwarves ornaments honouring B.C. couple’s late son

For the second time in a year, several garden ornaments stolen from Cloverdale family’s front garden

Child, 11, accidentally shot in the chest at Alberta religious colony

Child taken from Hutterite colony to nearby hospital

Most Read