An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is shown next to a gate at Trudeau Airport in Montreal on March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canadian airlines to feel pinch of Boeing 737 Max 8 production halt

Plane was supposed to make up a quarter of Air Canada’s narrow-body fleet by end of 2019

Boeing Co.’s suspension of the 737 Max production line will mean further headaches for Canadian airlines, which were counting on the grounded jetliner to carry more passengers and boost profit margins.

The Chicago-based aerospace company announced Monday that it will temporarily stop producing its grounded 737 Max jet starting in January as it struggles to get approval from regulators to put the plane back in the air.

Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc., says the manufacturing delay is likely “crimping expansion” at Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing.

Boeing’s marquee aircraft was slated to make up one-quarter — 36 planes — of Air Canada’s narrow-body fleet by the end of this year, with 14 more initially scheduled to arrive in 2020.

The grounding, implemented in March after a pair of fatal plane crashes within five months, forced Air Canada and WestJet to cancel some routes and lease less fuel-efficient aircraft. The two airlines have scrubbed the jetliner from their schedules until February.

WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart says the airline, which had been expecting four more Max 8s by 2021, will work with Boeing to review future deliveries after regulators green-light the aircraft.

The Canadian Press

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