Air Canada Substituting Planes From Qatar (And Others) Amid 737 MAX Grounding

Filed Under: Air Canada, Qatar

The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded for several weeks now, with no clear timeline for when the plane will be flying again. This has caused big operational challenges for several airlines, and obviously the airlines with the biggest 737 MAX fleets are impacted most.

Air Canada has a fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, making them one of the biggest operators of the plane. Today they shared some significant updates regarding their plans for the summer.

Air Canada has taken the 737 MAX out of their schedule through August 1, 2019. This means the airline has had to get creative to minimize the impact on their operations.

So, how is Air Canada dealing with this situation?

Air Canada is extending the lease on some A320s & E190s

Air Canada has extended their lease for three Airbus A320 and three Embraer 190 aircraft, which were scheduled to exit the fleet shortly. That provides them with some extra short-term capacity.

Air Canada Rouge is leasing WOW Air planes

Air Canada is taking over six Airbus A321 aircraft from WOW Air, which will join their Rouge fleet. These aren’t just short term leases intended to cover for 737 MAX groundings, but rather these planes will be joining the fleet long term. Air Canada is reconfiguring these planes, equipping them with wifi, and repainting them in the Air Canada Rouge livery.

Qatar Airways will operate select Air Canada flights

To further help with the capacity issues, Qatar Airways will operate two Air Canada routes starting June 15, 2019. Specifically, Qatar Airways A330-200s will operate Air Canada’s daily flights from Montreal to Barcelona and Montreal to Paris.

This will be a wet lease, so it will be Qatar Airways crews operating the planes. On the Barcelona route they’ll be replacing an Air Canada Rouge 767-300, and on the Paris route they’ll be replacing an A330-300.

Lufthansa taking over Air Canada’s Montreal to Frankfurt route

For the month of May, Air Canada’s Montreal to Frankfurt flight will be operated by Lufthansa. Currently Lufthansa flies from Montreal to both Frankfurt and Munich, so during the month of May Lufthansa will operate three daily flights between Montreal and Germany.

Omni Air operating Hawaii flights

Starting June 2, 2019, charter airline Omni Air International will operate Air Canada Rouge’s flights between Vancouver and Honolulu/Maui. They’ll be using a Boeing 767-200 for the route.

Air Canada suspending some routes

In some cases Air Canada hasn’t been able to come up with alternatives, so they’re suspending or adjusting routes:

  • Air Canada is suspending Halifax and St. John’s to London Heathrow flights through July 31, 2019
  • Toronto to Shannon, Toronto to Abbotsford, and Calgary to London, Ontario, are being suspended for the 2019 summer season

On top of that, some routes are being adjusted significantly. For example, the seasonal flight from Montreal to Bordeaux was supposed to be operated daily with a 737 MAX, but will instead be operated 3x weekly with an Air Canada Rouge 767-300.

Bottom line

Air Canada has obviously faced significant issues due to the 737 MAX groundings, though they’ve handled it really well. They say they’ve been able to protect 96% of their flying through these initiatives, and the airline deserves credit for that.

As you can see, in many cases they’re not directly replacing 737 MAX routes, but rather are shifting around capacity to make things work.

It’s especially interesting to me that Qatar Airways will be operating select transatlantic flights for Air Canada out of Montreal.

  1. You might want to clarify that AC is suspending Calgary to London, Ontario, not to London, UK.

  2. whats funny is that Rouge planes were not used in hawaii for awhile, they went from a Rouge 767(horrible) to AC 737 Max i think since late last year

  3. I’m sure this is a silly question, however isn’t there lots of spare Jet Airways planes back on the lease market that could potentially fill these gaps too depending on type etc ?

  4. @Greg Hard to imagine how a 767 (even a Rouge) could be worse than a 737 Max with its tiny toilets, 3-3 seating and horrible seat pitch. Though I guess the seat pitch might be a bit of a problem but the 2-4-2 means only one away to any aisle.

    The 767 gives a very stable ride though which is so much better than a narrow body over the Pacific.

  5. On the other side of the Pacific, Garuda agreed to convert 49 737 MAX-8 orders to undisclosed quantities of 737 MAX-10 & 787 for the same price they paid on the 7M8 orders. They could’ve switched to A320neo as their subsidiary Citilink already operate the type.. but Boeing must’ve been desperate to save face

  6. So basically, instead of sitting around cancelling flights and complaining about lost profits (cough..cough…. US carriers…) Air Canada are being proactive and have found a solution to cover almost every flight. All of this must have taken a lot of work and they are to be commended.

  7. Why is West jet still using Boeing Max 800, 700 and others! I have my first ever flying experience this summer, I am trying not to think about it a lot and still be proactive about who I book the families flights with. “Yes I may be wearing a diaper!”

  8. Just a reminder that 737 max have been flying in the USA and internationally with no problem at all for quite some time..
    Kudos to AC for working hard to cover all the shortages..

  9. Agree with Dennis. I think Air Canada has done a tremendous job. Remember, they were also expecting more B737Max deliveries these months ontop of the ones already grounded. So it is a big deal and AC has been most proactive.

  10. I don’t think LH currently operates a YUL-FRA flight, they are just taking over the AC flight for May

  11. @Jamie, those aircraft were mostly taken over by other Indian airlines, especially Spicejet, to fill the gap in demand within India.

  12. No one has commented on the AC flight to India. It now seems to operate through Vancouver mY be because of Pakistan airspace problem but I have to go all the way from Atlantic Canada adding six hours to the travel time.

  13. @Angel Biggs

    WestJet is not currently flying the MAX as Canada does not permit it, along with all other countries. The 737-600, -700, and -800 they fly are not MAX planes, but the older (and safe) “Next Generation” planes.

    The MAX branding uses the terms “737 MAX 8” and “737 MAX 9”. They do not use “700” nor “800”.

  14. @shree mulay ???? AC42 operates Toronto to Delhi
    Mind you the subject of this is the air Canada fleet issues not flights to India affected by the PK airspace closure
    Your comments are very vague

  15. @Basil — absolutely agree with you! Wish Qatar would be permitted to fly to Toronto. Instead we saw Emirates and Etihad permitted to increase weekly flights from 6 to 10.

  16. 767-200 from Omni Air is pretty much avgeek thing because this plane is no longer to be found anywhere and I was thinking you would say OMG what an aircraft, I am in but no, you rather have some Diet Coke, mediocre fish and shitty complaint on privacy and cabin temperature with Ford next to you on some award flight. You avgeek lol.

  17. @Azamaraal – I think @GregHard’s comment about the Rouge 767 being horrible was because AC Rouge’s cabins tend to be rather old and worn with very dense seating. So, sitting for five or six hours in an old seat with 30 inch pitch would indeed be horrible. On the other hand, AC’s 737MAX aircraft aren’t configured as tightly as AA’s – so there’s a bit more space on those which would make for a far more comfortable ride to Hawaii.

  18. Interesting that in their press release Air Canada make a point of highlighting they are leveraging their Star Alliance partnership with Lufthansa, while in reality they will have more flights covered by Qatar ( One World ‘enemy’) than with LH!

  19. Whoa such a crazy upgrade for the YUL-BCN route… From a Rouge 763 to a QR 332!
    I wish the QR aircraft were used on the TLV flights. That would be such a wonderful sight at TLV.

  20. @Bob As someone who has flow AC from YYZ to CDG and Aeroflot from JFK-SVO in the early ’80s, one was a depressing, customer service nightmare provided by poorly-trained, belligerent staff on crappy, worn out planes. The other was Soviet era Aeroflot.

  21. Good for you Air Canada! Get rid of the Boeing 737 Max. In fact, get rid of BOEING.
    It is not comforting to know that the planes are grounded until August only, especially when I am flying Air Canada to Canada in August for the funreal of my dear friend who died on the Ethiopia crash on a Boeing plane that should have never been in the air. Boeing’s negligence cost her-her life and nothing can bring her back, her partner and all the others who died back. The legacy of this is that many children, are because of the Boeing 737 Max without parents and family members and friends lost and distraught over the deaths of lives ones.

  22. What planes did Copa use to replace their 737 Max? The flights I’m searching LAX-SCL all still show that this is still the aircraft for all flights.

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