Category Archives: Air Canada

Reuters: Air Canada pilots reviewing aircraft systems on Boeing’s MAX jets

From Reuters:

Air Canada said on Thursday its Boeing Co 737 MAX pilots were reviewing aircraft systems and alternative flight conditions for the grounded planes, and the carrier would decide on further training pending final recommendations from regulators.

On Wednesday, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau called for pilots to receive simulator training for Boeing’s new 737 MAX software, going beyond a draft report by a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-appointed board, which recommended additional training without requiring a simulator.

Boeing is working to deliver to global regulators a software update and new training proposals for the MAX following a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October and an Ethiopian crash in March, which killed 346 people combined.

Boeing said on Wednesday it was making “steady progress” on the path to certifying the software update and had made the final test flight before a certification flight.

Air Canada said it was the only carrier in the United States and Canada with 737 MAX simulators. The country’s largest carrier said it was pleased to see the Canadian government take a “rigorous approach” in how it weighs its requirements for reintroducing the jets into service.

Air Canada’s rival, Westjet Airlines, declined to specifically address Garneau’s comments, but the carrier follows all Transport Canada recommendations, a company spokeswoman said by email.

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Air Canada updates its schedule for May in response to ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSOC (msn 61224) LHR (Keith Burton). Image: 945960.

Air Canada has issued this statement:

Air Canada said today that due to Transport Canada’s continued closure of Canadian airspace to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, it has further adjusted its schedule through to May 31. The carrier anticipates it will cover 98 percent of previously planned flying for the month through a series of mitigation measures, schedule changes and temporary route suspensions.

“Air Canada assures its customers that we are doing everything possible to mitigate the effects of the 737 MAX grounding, and we appreciate our customers’ patience and flexibility as we continue to work on transporting them safely to their destinations. By adjusting our schedule for the month of May, we are providing certainty for our customers so they can continue to book and travel with confidence on Air Canada,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

In compliance with the safety notice issued by Transport Canada on March 13, 2019, Air Canada grounded its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing has advised that deliveries of its 737 MAX are currently suspendedAir Canada was expecting six new aircraft in March and April.

Air Canada is now updating its June schedule to optimize its fleet and re-accommodate customers. Because the timeline for the return to service of the 737 MAX is unknown, for planning purposes and to provide customers certainty for booking and travel, Air Canada has removed 737 MAX flying from its schedule until at least July 1, 2019. Final decisions on returning the 737 MAX to service will be based on Air Canada’s safety assessment following the lifting of government safety notices and approval by international regulatory authorities.

Among the measures taken by Air Canada:

Mitigations

To mitigate the impact, Air Canada has been substituting different aircraft on 737 MAX routes. This includes flying routes with similar-sized or larger aircraft. To help provide this replacement flying, the carrier has extended leases for aircraft which were scheduled to exit the fleet. Air Canada is also accelerating the in-take of recently acquired Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Air into its fleet.

Air Canada Airbus A321-211 C-GJVX (msn 1726) YVR (Rob Rindt). Image: 941073.

Above Copyright Photo: Air Canada Airbus A321-211 C-GJVX (msn 1726) YVR (Rob Rindt). Image: 941073.

Working with our Partner Airlines

The carrier has worked with other carriers to provide immediate extra capacity and provide alternative options to passengers. For example, its MontrealFrankfurt flight for the month of May will be operated by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.

Schedule Changes until June 30

The airline has implemented a number of route changes to date, either changing operating times or substituting larger aircraft with fewer frequencies on routes operated more frequently by smaller aircraft. For example, beginning in May two daily flights between Toronto and Calgary have been consolidated onto one larger Airbus A330, leaving nine daily flights.

In some cases, seasonal route launches have been delayed. This includes: TorontoPortland, which will now start July 1 instead of May 24; VancouverBoston, which will now start June 16 instead of June 1; and CalgaryHalifax, which will now start July 1 instead of May 18. The seasonal start of the carrier’s TorontoShannon route and new MontrealBordeaux service will both be delayed until early July.

In addition, selected frequencies on domestic routes such as TorontoEdmonton, will be served by Air Canada Rouge aircraft.

Route Suspensions

In a small number of cases, Air Canada has temporarily suspended service on certain 737 MAX routes where alternative aircraft are not presently available. This includes flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London Heathrow, for which it is re-accommodating customers over its Toronto and Montreal hubs. These routes are now suspended to May 31, but Air Canada remains committed to these routes.

Customer Information

As changes are finalized in the flight schedule, customers whose flight times or flight numbers have changed can expect to receive an email detailing their updated itinerary. This information is also available in My Bookings on the Air Canada app or Air Canada website. Customers are advised, whether they have booked directly through Air Canada or not, to ensure their contact information is on their booking to facilitate communication of any flight changes.

Top Copyright Photo: Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSOC (msn 61224) LHR (Keith Burton). Image: 945960.

Air Canada aircraft slide show:

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Air Canada updates its schedule following the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSJJ (msn 61217) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945958.

Air Canada said today that it has adjusted its schedule through to April 30 to cover 98 percent of its planned flying following Transport Canada’s closure of Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations. In compliance with the safety notice, Air Canada has grounded its 24 737 MAX aircraft and Boeing has advised that deliveries of its 737 MAX are currently suspended. Air Canada was expecting six new aircraft in March and April.

Air Canada is now updating its May schedule to further optimize its fleet and re-accommodate customers. Because the timeline for the return to service of the 737 MAX is unknown, for planning purposes and to provide customers certainty for booking and travel, Air Canada intends to remove 737 MAX flying from its schedule until at least July 1, 2019. 

“The Boeing 737 MAX accounted for six percent of Air Canada’s total flying, but there is a domino effect from removing the 737s from our fleet that impacts the schedule and ultimately will impact some customers. We have been working very hard to minimize that impact,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

“To bring certainty to our schedule for our customers when booking and travelling, we are revising our schedule until July and we have taken several steps to continue delivering substantially all of our planned capacity through our global network.

“Customers who have travel plans between now and July can be reassured that we will keep them informed every step of the way as we revise our schedule. We have a deep global network and many partner airlines to provide solutions so serving our customers and minimizing any disruption is our first priority. We remain committed to delivering the same safe, reliable transportation customers expect from Air Canada. Customers can continue to book and travel on Air Canada with full confidence,” said Ms. Guillemette.

Among the measures taken by Air Canada:

Mitigations

To mitigate the impact, Air Canada has been substituting different aircraft on 737 MAX routes. This includes flying routes with similar-sized or larger aircraft. To help provide this replacement flying, the carrier has extended leases for aircraft which were scheduled to exit the fleet.

Air Canada is also accelerating the in-take of recently acquired Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Airlines into its fleet and has hired other carriers to provide immediate extra capacity. For example, Air Transat has been chartered on a temporary basis to operate one daily frequency between Vancouver and Montreal beginning March 20 until March 31. In addition, Air Canada has leased an aircraft from Air Transat from April 1 to April 30 in order to operate the Montreal to Cancun route.

Schedule Changes

The airline has implemented a number of route changes to date, either changing operating times or substituting larger aircraft with fewer frequencies on routes operated more frequently by smaller aircraft. In some cases, it has deployed Air Canada Rouge aircraft to serve mainline routes. The airline is also currently finalizing a new routing for the return leg of its TorontoDelhi service, which continues to be impacted by the closure of Pakistani airspace. This flight will remain nonstop between Toronto and Delhi but now stop in Vancouver rather than Copenhagen on the return leg.

Route Suspensions

In a small number of cases, Air Canada has temporarily suspended until further notice service on certain 737 MAX routes where alternative aircraft are not presently available. This includes flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London Heathrow, for which it is re-accommodating customers over its Toronto and Montreal hubs. Air Canada remains committed to these routes and will resume service as soon as possible. It also includes seasonal flights from Vancouver to Kona, Lihue and Calgary-Palm Springs, with customers re-accommodated on other routings.

Customer Information

As changes are finalized in the flight schedule, customers whose flight times or flight numbers have changed can expect to receive an email detailing their updated itinerary. This information is also available in My Bookings on the Air Canada app or Air Canada website. Customers are advised, whether they have booked directly through Air Canada or not, to ensure their contact information is on their booking to facilitate communication of any flight changes.

Air Canada has put in place a flexible rebooking policy with full fee waiver and a refund option for affected customers. Customers originally scheduled to travel on a 737 MAX can call Air Canada at 1-833-354-5963 for information within 72 hours of their planned flight. Customers who have booked flights through a Travel Agent should contact them for immediate assistance.

Air Canada has a fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft, which have been in operation since 2017. Air Canada has a total fleet of 400 aircraft (including 24 737 MAX), comprising Air Canada mainline, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express aircraft.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSJJ (msn 61217) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945958.

Air Canada aircraft slide show:

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Planning for the un-planned: Diversions allow Air Canada ground staff in St. John’s a chance to shine

Air Canada issued this story of diversions at St. John’s:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain from the flight deck. One of our passengers has become seriously ill and we will be diverting to St. John’s so we can get him the appropriate medical attention. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the health of our passengers is a top priority.”

Diversions happen for a number of reasons, but the most urgent ones are almost always the ones where someone’s life hangs in the balance.

“Through teamwork and in keeping safety first, always, our employees rise to every occasion to take care of customers and get these flights back in the air to resume their journey,” said Al Read, Vice President, Airports – North America. “While some of these diversions can be complex, our teams handle them with the compassion you would expect from Canadians. We cannot leave people stranded.”

The St. John’s Airport is the easternmost facility for Air Canada that can handle diversions, and in 2018 took care of 23, including airlines like Air France, KLM, Iberia, Norwegian Air, Delta, American Airlines, United and Tui fly.

“A requirement to land aircraft immediately happens frequently and we handle them with professionalism, care and class,” Al Read said.

Late last year, a diversion from one of our Star Alliance partners dealing with a medical emergency on board resulted in an unexpected stay in St. John’s, Nfld. for more than 250 people who were on board a Lufthansa Airbus A330 travelling from Montreal to Munich.

During a diversion, “We always have to do the right thing because people’s lives are at stake or at risk,” said David Walker, Manager of Station Operations for Air Canada at St. John’s Airport. “When an aircraft comes in that is not scheduled to come in, it’s also very costly for any airline. Diversions can be for many reasons, the unruly passenger, illness, mechanical aircraft problems.”

The flight landed at just past 2 am local time, and by the time the emergency was sorted out, the flight crew was over its duty time and the flight could not proceed. That’s when the team in St. John’s jumped into action to take care of the 243 passengers and 12 crew.

However, with hotel rooms limited in St. John’s, passengers were given the choice to go on a bus tour of the city or remain at the airport. Seniors and families were placed in hotel rooms as they became available, and one family decided it wanted to take the kids to a park to play, so our team put them in a taxi that took them to various city parks.

The diversion is an unscheduled stopover and passengers don’t really want to be at that destination.

“So, it’s a very delicate situation where you have to deal with passengers on an individual basis, make them feel comfortable, make them feel safe and make them feel cared for. And then you have to deal with families that are dealing with a difficult time or a tragedy,” David Walker said.

The flight re-departed around 9:30 p.m. after being cleaned, catered and refuelled for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

The services rendered by our teams so impressed Lufthansa, that the Head of Ground Operations Lufthansa Group in North America’s East Coast, Peter Köser, sent a letter of recognition that reads, in part:

“On behalf of the Lufthansa management and our customers I want to thank you very much for the extraordinary support you and your team rendered last week in St. John’s. We appreciated very much that you organized a city tour, provided catering and opened the lounge as no hotels were available for our customers. Our customer service department did not register one negative customer comment, which is absolutely unusual for a diversion like this,” Köser wrote.

While flight crews have basic first aid training and will seek out a medical professional on board who can use the aircraft’s medical kit, getting a passenger on the ground as quickly as possible is still the best option.

When that happens, our ground crews are ready to jump into action, as the Lufthansa example demonstrates. Our dedicated ground crews across the country step up when a diversion occurs to not only ensure that our scheduled operations are unaffected, but that the passengers and crews of the diverted aircraft are looked after with empathy and compassion.

Air Canada suspends 2019 financial guidance in light of Boeing 737 MAX grounding

Air Canada announced today that, following Transport Canada’s safety notice closing Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft until further notice, the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary grounding order and Boeing’s decision to suspend MAX deliveries to airline customers, it is suspending all financial guidance it provided in respect of the first quarter and full year 2019.

In light of the current uncertainty, Air Canada is suspending all financial guidance it provided on February 15, 2019 and February 28, 2019 in respect of the 2019 financial year. The financial guidance provided for the years 2020 and 2021 with respect to annual EBITDA margin (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and impairment, as a percentage of operating revenue) and annual ROIC (return on invested capital) as well as the cumulative free cash flow over the 2019-2021 period remains in place.

Air Canada continues to adapt a contingency plan to address the evolving situation and will provide updates as developments warrant.

Air Canada responds to Transport Canada’s closure of Canadian airspace to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSCY (msn 61208) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945955.

Air Canada just issued this statement:

Air Canada confirmed today that it will comply immediately with Transport Canada’s safety notice closing Canadian airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations until further notice.

Air Canada’s cancellation and rebooking policies are in place with full fee waiver for affected customers. We are working to rebook impacted customers as soon as possible but given the magnitude of our 737 MAX operations which on average carry nine to twelve thousand customers per day, customers can expect delays in rebooking and in reaching Air Canada call centres and we appreciate our customers’ patience.

Customers are further advised to check the status of their flight on aircanada.com prior to going to the airport.

We fully support this decision and will continue to work with Transport Canada towards resolution of this situation as soon as possible.

Top Copyright Photo: Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 C-FSCY (msn 61208) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945955.

Air Canada aircraft slide show:

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Canada closes its airspace to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, Air Canada and WestJet MAX 8s grounded

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, issued the following statement today:

“My thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by the tragic aircraft accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Following advice from Transport Canada Civil Aviation experts, as a precautionary measure, I am issuing a safety notice to address this issue. This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft – from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace.

“This safety notice is effective immediately, and will remain in place until further notice.

“The advice the experts have provided is based on the information they have been receiving; the requirements for new procedures and training for Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 flight crews they have already put in place; and the latest information available from the incidents.

“It is too soon to speculate about the cause of the accident in Addis Ababa, and to make direct links to the Lion Air accident in Indonesia in October 2018; however, my department has been closely monitoring the investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority.

“Following the Lion Air accident, Transport Canada adopted the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airworthiness Directive. It also required that Canadian airlines who operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft, put new procedures in place and implement additional crew training.

“We were one of the first countries to do so and not all countries have implemented this change. And these Canadian requirements for new procedures and training to protect against the risk identified went above and beyond the measures directed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing – and above and beyond what other nations have done.

“Canada has an enviable aviation safety record because of the professionalism and safety-first focus of Canada’s aviation industry – those who design and manufacture aircraft, those who maintain them, our airports, our air traffic controllers and of course those who operate and fly the aircraft. It also due to the world-class knowledge, expertise and relentless focus on safety by Transport Canada officials who are responsible for developing regulations and ensuring compliance with those regulations.

“My departmental officials continue to monitor the situation and I will not hesitate to take swift action, should we discover any additional safety issues.”