April 29, 2019 6:56 pm
Updated: May 3, 2019 12:20 am

As Swoop takes off from London, 737 MAX groundings force Air Canada to pause summer service to Calgary

The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017.

Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL
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As one airline begins service at the London International Airport, another is hitting the pause button.

Swoop, the ultra-low-cost airline operated by WestJet, officially began daily service at the airport over the weekend with flights to and from Edmonton.

“We had 140 people go out yesterday and 120 come back in — we’ve got similarly a good load today,” said Mike Seabrook, the airport’s CEO, on Monday.

Seabrook added the airline is a perfect fit for the London-area market with its lower fares and cost structure.

READ MORE: London International Airport traffic soars to new record in 2018

“It stimulates people to travel that maybe wouldn’t in the past,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit for our airport.”

Planned daily service connecting London to Abbotsford, B.C., and Halifax, N.S., is set to begin in late May, according to the airline.

Swoop Airlines Boeing 737 on display during their media event, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

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Swoop also operates out of Hamilton’s airport, with flights to the same cities, as well as Winnipeg, on top of international destinations including Las Vegas, and Cancun, Mexico.

While Londoners bound for Abbotsford, Edmonton, and Halifax may be rejoicing, those flying to Calgary this summer via Air Canada have been dealt a change of plans.

The airline says it’s suspending some 2019 seasonal routes, including service from London to Calgary, amid ongoing uncertainty with Boeing’s 737 MAX jets in the wake of two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

READ MORE: Air Canada to ground Boeing 737 MAX jets until at least the start of August

Airlines with the jets in their fleet, including Air Canada and WestJet, have had to make schedule and service adjustments to provide more certainty for passengers travelling over the summer.

The London to Calgary service was set to begin in June and continue until after Labour Day. “They have full intentions of starting it again next year, in 2020, once the MAX problem is rectified,” Seabrook said.

“When you take 24 [planes] out of the equation … they just don’t have the capability to keep their planned schedule. They have to make adjustments, and unfortunately we got caught in that.”

WATCH: Boeing faces inquiries, lawsuits amid probes into deadly crashes

Boeing’s 737 MAX jets have been grounded worldwide since last month following the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 on Oct. 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Mar. 10.

In both cases, faulty information from a sensor caused anti-stall automation to kick in when it wasn’t needed and push the plane’s nose down. Pilots struggled to counter the plane’s actions but were unable to avoid crashing.

Investigations into the crashes are ongoing, and Boeing is working on a software update to fix the problem along with a new pilot training package.

READ MORE: Ontario families of Ethiopian plane crash victims file lawsuits against Boeing

On Monday, the families of 10 Ontario residents killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash filed wrongful death lawsuits against the aerospace giant, alleging it rushed to have its 737 MAX 8 aircraft enter the market to compete with Airbus, and that the Federal Aviation Administration “enabled” the company’s “reckless actions.”

The allegations have not been proven in court.

— With files from the Associated Press

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

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