WestJet CEO Ed Sims said that he still had full confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX. But due to the uncertainty surrounding the aircraft, the Canadian airline had to shrink its route network.
WestJet will temporarily suspend five routes in the coming months. These routes are respectively Halifax-Paris (from June 3 to August 2), Edmonton-Ottawa (from June 3 to July 3), Edmonton-Montreal (from June 3 to July 3), Toronto-Kelowna (from June 3 to June 27) and Vancouver-Regina (from June 3 to July 3).
Passengers who are already booked for these flights will be transferred to alternative flights. For example, customers who would fly to Halifax from Eastern Canada would be offered the option of flying via Calgary. Many customers find this solution doubtful. Some passengers complain that travel time increases to 22 hours then.
WestJet currently has thirteen Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, which have been on the ground for five weeks. It remains unknown when the planes will be able to fly again. Some suggest that it won’t be possible before the end of August.
“We are closely involved in the changes that Boeing is making. Our biggest challenge is not to show the pilots what changes have been made, but rather to convince the general public about the safety of the 737 MAXs” said Ed Sims in an interview with Financial Post.
“If the software update is approved, the MAX is the safest device of its kind,” the Chief Executive added.
The airline will take delivery of 37 MAX 8 jets more over the five to ten years.