Lingering groundings of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes have officially extended into the December holiday season into next year.
That means travellers may have more difficulty than usual both finding and affording holiday flights, according to Tae Hoon Oum, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
“This means that there will be fewer seats available, because airlines were expecting the 737 MAX problem would be solved by then,” he told Global News.
Air Canada has already announced that its 24 jets will be grounded at least until Jan. 8, 2020. Until the grounding, the company had been expecting 12 more MAX 8s by last July.
WestJet told Global News it is also in the process of removing its 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from its winter schedule.
“WestJet is in the process of adjusting our winter schedule to remove the MAX from service from Nov. 4, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020,” a statement from the airline read.
It added that the changes will be available on its website on Sept. 8.
WATCH: Boeing announces delay in fix for Boeing MAX series aircraft
Sunwing has also removed its fleet from flight schedules, saying the jets won’t return until at least May 2020.
In a statement to Global News, Sunwing explained its difficult for airlines to estimate when the jets will return as they too are waiting on regulatory approval.
Global News reached out to Transport Canada on when that approval can be expected but the agency did not provide a statement by publication.
Several other airlines around the world, including United, Southwest and American Airlines, have also extended their groundings.
Oum explained that he expects the Boeing groundings to last for several months, and at least into the new year — something that hurts Boeing, airlines and passengers.
He noted airlines will try to find ways around cancelling flights altogether in the busy travel season, but that will be difficult.
WATCH: Air Canada to keep Boeing 737 MAX planes grounded until at least January
“The airlines will try to secure to capacity by leasing aircraft, but I’m sure of those leasing companies will be sold out. There are only so many aircraft.”
That’s why he said passengers planning on flying during the holiday season should plan ahead and start monitoring prices earlier this year.
Taking the MAX out of the schedule months beforehand does reduce airlines’ risk of alienating customers by cancelling flights close to departure, he noted.
Boeing is currently trying to fix flight-control software implicated in crashes off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia — which together killed 346 people — and solve another problem that Federal Aviation Administration test pilots discovered in June.
— With files from The Associated Press