March 13, 2019 7:03 pm

Air Canada flights to London from Halifax, St. John’s on hiatus after Boeing 737 MAX 8s grounded

WATCH: Air Canada has temporarily suspended its flights to London's Heathrow Airport from Halifax and St. John's.


Air Canada flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London’s Heathrow Airport have been cancelled following Transport Canada’s announcement that all Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets are banned from the country’s airspace.

The airline says it is making adjustments to its flight schedules and, in the short-term, will be rerouting those who wish to fly on either route by connecting passengers to flights leaving from either Montreal or Toronto.

READ MORE: Canada to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 after Ethiopian Airlines crash

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“We are making adjustments to our schedule to minimize the disruption to customers as much as possible by optimizing the deployment of the rest of our fleet and looking at alternative options, including accommodating customers on other airlines,” said Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur in an emailed statement.

There was some disruption at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Wednesday afternoon after Transport Canada’s announcement that all Boeing 737 MAX 8s were grounded.

Passengers waiting to board a 2 p.m. flight to Toronto were at the gate when they found out — many from their cellphones — as the news broke on social media.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the decision in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed all 157 passengers aboard, including 18 Canadians.

WATCH: Ethiopia sends its Boeing 737 MAX 8 black boxes to Europe

The Ethiopian Airlines crash marked the second deadly incident in six months involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8, the first being the Lion Air crash in October 2018, which killed 189 people in Indonesia.

Halifax airport officials say two routes are affected by the Transport Canada decision as well as all Air Canada flights to Toronto and London.

Airport officials are asking customers to contact the airlines from which they’ve purchased tickets to get updates regarding their flight information.

“We are in contact with Air Canada and any other airline that might be using this aircraft going forward to determine what their contingency plan is and to support them in that so they can continue with their service from Halifax Stanfield,” said communications manager Tiffany Chase with Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Some customers who were grounded in Halifax on Wednesday had to scramble to make alternative flight plans, with Brian Wentzell telling Global News that he stands to lose thousands as flight delays could cause him to miss the boarding call for a cruise he had planned along the Mediterranean.

“Just a few minutes before I was expecting to board, they come out and said it was cancelled. The decision was made in Ottawa to cancel those flights and so I was caught in it,” said Wentzell, who planned to fly to Toronto and then connect to a flight to Italy.

“I had two cruises back-to-back so I’m out, right now, at least $3,000, and plus this (flight cancellation), at least four or five thousand,” he added.

READ MORE: Trump orders ban on all Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights in U.S.

Cathy Fancy said the cancellation will cut her week-long vacation down a day but said she’s OK with that.

“If they feel there’s information that’s strong enough to influence them to take it out of service for now then I’m happy,” she said.

“I’m here, I’m rebooked on another flight for tomorrow…so it’s all good.”

Air Canada says it’s working with customers to rebook flights, but it’s not clear when regular flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London will resume.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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