Canadian airlines are grounding their Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft following a directive from the federal government.
Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced Wednesday that commercial airlines in Canada will not be allowed to fly the aircraft. The Boeing planes from any airline, including from countries that haven’t suspended the aircraft, won’t be able to fly over the country’s airspace.
The move came amid mounting pressure to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, which have been involved in two catastrophic crashes in the past six months.
Several countries around the world have taken similar actions, including the United States. Here’s what Canadian passengers need to know.
WATCH: Canada joins worldwide Boeing ban and grounds 737 MAX 8 planes
Canadian airlines respond to grounding
Air Canada explained that its cancellation and rebooking policies are in place, and fees will be waived for affected customers. It noted that travellers will face delays in the process.
“…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,” the statement read.
Air Canada has 24 MAX 8s — flight updates can be found here.
WestJet said in its statement that it will be grounding its 13 MAX aircraft and will work to rebook customers “as quickly as possible.” It noted that 92 per cent of its fleet will remain in service.
WestJet operates 35 flights daily on the jets. It said all of the aircraft are now grounded in the following cities: Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
WestJet customers can check for flight updates here.
Sunwing, another Canadian carrier, already took the decision to ground its four MAX 8 jets on Tuesday night.
The airline released a statement Wednesday, saying Sunwing supports Transport Canada’s decision and is in the process of finalizing a revised flight schedule. It said no flights will be cancelled.
WATCH: Decision to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes causes delays at YYC
WestJet, Air Canada flights affected
Several Canadian travellers took to social media on Wednesday with inquiries about their flights, with many confused about whether they were affected.
The suspension comes as thousands of Canadians are away on March break, stoking fears of stranded passengers and rebooking delays.
According to air traffic monitoring website FlightAware, at least 16 Air Canada flights using the Boeing 737 MAX 8 are currently cancelled and at least four WestJet flights are cancelled. Neither airline has confirmed how many routes will be affected by the ban or for how long.
The carriers use the commuter planes daily to ferry passengers on routes that include Vancouver-Calgary, Honolulu-Vancouver, Vancouver-Montreal and Montreal-Los Angeles.
WestJet explained that it is in the process of updating its flight schedule and those affected will see an update to their itinerary soon, either through email or the airline’s mobile app.
Meanwhile, some Canadian airports advised passengers to check the status of their flights.
—With a file from the Canadian Press