• Tom Jordan

Air Canada cancels order for 11 737 MAX aircraft

Boeing's 737 MAX program was dealt another cruel blow when Air Canada announced it would be cancelling an order for 11 of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft it had on order, further reducing the backlog for the grounded aircraft type's order book.

An Air Canada Boeing 737-MAX 8 slows down after a test flight from Boeing Field. Photo by Preston Fielder | AeroNewsX

Air Canada's affiliation with the Boeing 737 MAX family dates back to 2013 when the airline placed an order for 61 of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 variant, which at the time was touted as a replacement for the airline's quickly ageing Airbus A320-200s, as well as to fuel the growth of the airline at the time prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Air Canada received its first 737 MAX on schedule in November 2017 and was scheduled to take delivery of 60 further aircraft through to 2021. However, Air Canada's dreams of a new and more modern narrow body fleet were dealt a cruel blow on March 14, 2019 when Transport Canada grounded all 737 MAX aircraft flying within Canada due to safety issues with the jet's sophisticated computer systems, an issue brought to light by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash and Lion Air Flight 610 disaster, resulting in the death of 376 people.

At the time of the grounding, Air Canada had already taken delivery of the 24 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, which still remain grounded after more than a year, with the timeline of their return to the skies still unclear as losses from the ground aircraft mount. This combined with the downturn of the airline industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic today led Air Canada to cancel 11 of the remaining 37 orders for the aircraft it had with the manufacturer Boeing, with the remainder of 26 jets left on order expected to be delivered by the end of 2020, pending the regulators allowing it to return to the skies.

According to Air Canada Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Michael Rousseau, the airline is now actively considering the A321neo or A321neo(LR) as a potential member of its fleet in the future. This could act as potential replacement for the 15 A321ceo aircraft the airline currently operates, as well as fill the void left by the cancelled 737 MAX orders announced today. Rousseau, however stated, "nethertheless the airline would see how the market evolved before placing any further aircraft orders."

In spite of the negative news surrounding the 737 MAX, Air Canada remains optimistic the aircraft will be seen back in the skies wearing Air Canada colours very soon. Rousseau today stated that 12 of the remaining 26 jets left on order had already been completed and were only waiting on the go-ahead by regulators before they could be enjoyed by passengers once again.

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