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WestJet plans resumption of 737 Max flights, pending Transport Canada approval

Last Updated Jan 6, 2021 at 9:35 am MDT

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration Chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle.. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

CALGARY – The Boeing 737 MAX planes could soon be back in Canadian airspace.

WestJet said it plans to resume flying its fleet of MAX aircraft later this month, pending approval by Transport Canada.

The announcement follows comments by Transport Canada late last year that safety experts had validated the aircraft design changes and outlined requirements for Canadian carriers to bring it a step closer to resuming flights.

“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 January 21,” said Westjet President, Ed Sims.

“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.”

The Boeing 737 Max aircraft has been grounded for nearly two years after technical issues led to deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared the MAX for flight, as long as carriers implement certain design fixes and provide specialized training to pilots.

WestJet said pending approval of the aircraft for commercial flights by Canadian authorities its first flight is set for Jan. 21.

“We will be forthcoming with our guests on where the MAX aircraft are flying, and we will be flexible with our change and cancel policy to ensure our guests can make their travel plans confidently,” said Sims.

The airline plans to operate three round-trip flights per week between Calgary and Toronto for four weeks, while it evaluates further routes and additional flights.