WestJet (WS, Calgary) has joined the list of airlines announcing firm B737 MAX service resumption plans, with the type’s first flights slated for January 21, 2021.
“While we don’t have final confirmation on when Transport Canada will open Canadian airspace to the B737 MAX aircraft, in the interest of transparency we are sharing our intent to fly once this confirmation is received… The deliberate, detailed and independent scrutiny applied by Transport Canada’s National Aircraft Certification team, which prescribed additional requirements to pilot procedures and training, provides further confidence in the aircraft and its safe return,” President and Chief Executive Ed Sims said.
The airline plans to initially operate proving flights starting in mid-January 2021. As of January 21, it plans to deploy its B737-8s 3x weekly between Toronto Pearson and Calgary. WestJet said that this minimal schedule would remain in place for the first four weeks as it evaluates “further routes and additional frequencies”. Passengers will still have access to multiple alternative flights as WestJet serves the Toronto-Calgary route up to 6x daily.
“We will be forthcoming with our guests on where the MAX aircraft are flying, and we will be flexible with our change and cancel policy to ensure our guests can make their travel plans confidently,” Sims said.
According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, WestJet took deliveries of thirteen B737-8s before the type’s grounding in March 2019. It has a further twenty-two B737-7s, nine -8s, and twelve B737-10s on firm order from Boeing.
While Transport Canada approved design changes to the B737 MAX on December 17, 2020, based on earlier US FAA approval, the country has yet to lift its blanket ban on the type’s commercial operations in its airspace.
So far, the only three airlines to have restarted B737 MAX commercial operations globally are GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, American Airlines, and Copa Airlines.