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United Airlines, WestJet File Intentions for Resuming Boeing 737 MAX Flights
On Wednesday, WestJet announced its intent to resume Boeing 737 MAX flights. Additionally, United Airlines filed its first routes with the Boeing 737 MAX 9 on Wednesday. These two moves showcase the gradual reinstatement of the Boeing 737 MAX after groundings that kept it out of service for almost two years.
WestJet MAX Resumption
WestJet will resume its Boeing 737 MAX flights on Jan. 22, with three weekly flights between Calgary, Canada and Toronto, subject to the approval of the 737 MAX to fly in Canadian airspace. If the Boeing 737 MAX is approved to fly in Canadian airspace before Jan. 22, it would make WestJet the first Canadian carrier to resume 737 MAX flights.
The first flight is tentatively scheduled as WestJet 698, with an 8 a.m. departure from Calgary and a 1:51 p.m. arrival into Toronto. After the first four weeks of flights, WestJet will look to integrate the Boeing 737 MAX into more of its routes.
WestJet’s President and CEO, Ed Sims, states, “As we continue working with Transport Canada on the additional Canadian requirements, our first MAX will be ready to return safely to service as of Jan. 21. While we don’t have final confirmation on when TC will open Canadian airspace to the 737 MAX aircraft, in the interest of transparency we are sharing our intent to fly once this confirmation is received.”
Before the initial commercial flights, WestJet will conduct test flights on its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, to ensure the safety of the aircraft for its return to service. On Dec. 17, Transport Canada — Canada’s transportation authority — validated the aircraft’s design changes and issued guidelines for Canadian airline’s return to service.
On the subject, Sims said, “The FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and numerous other regulatory bodies around the world have spent more than a year examining the MAX aircraft to provide recommended changes to software, pilot training and maintenance requirements. We are confident with the changes they have mandated. In particular, 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.”
Currently, WestJet has 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8’s, as well as orders for 12 Boeing 737 MAX 10’s, 9 Boeing 737 MAX 8’s and 22 Boeing 737 MAX 7’s. Before the grounding, WestJet used the Boeing 737 MAX 8 on a variety of routes, including Caribbean and North American sun & fun flying in the winter on routes like Calgary to Kahului, according to data from AirlineRoute.
For passengers unwilling to fly on the aircraft, WestJet will offer flexible change and cancellation fees.
United Airlines MAX Resumption
Meanwhile, United Airlines filed its first MAX flights on Wednesday, mainly based at its hubs in Houston and Denver. The first flight, United 1864, will depart on Feb. 11 from Denver to Houston.
From Denver, the Boeing 737 MAX will operate flights to Fort Myers, Fla.; Las Vegas; Orlando and Sacramento, Calif.
From Houston, the Boeing 737 MAX will operate flights to Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; New York; Orlando and Phoenix. Additionally, United will offer weekly 737MAX service to Miami and San Francisco from its Houston hub.
Before its return to service, United Airlines will conduct seven test flights on each of its Boeing 737 MAX. Also, it will follow all FAA guidelines related to the reinstatement of service.
Currently, United Airlines operates 22 Boeing 737 MAX 9, with 63 more Boeing 737 MAX 9 and 100 Boeing 737 MAX 10 on order. Its’ Boeing 737 MAX 9 features 159 seats, 20 first-class seats, 48 premium economy seats, and 111 economy seats.
United Airlines will be the second airline in the United States to resume Boeing 737 MAX flights, after American Airlines. Other airlines that will resume 737 MAX flights include Alaska Airlines on March 1 and Southwest Airlines in March. GOL Airlines was the first airline to resume 737 MAX flights in December.
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