MONTREAL — Sunwing Airlines is temporarily grounding its four Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the wake of the Ethiopian plane crash that killed all 157 people on board.
The Canadian low-cost airline says in a statement Tuesday night that it made the decision for “evolving commercial reasons” unrelated to safety, including airspace restrictions being imposed in other countries.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau will provide an update on Canada’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 plan on Wednesday morning in Ottawa.
But he is facing an escalating dilemma over the aircraft, which a growing number of countries have grounded or banned after the crash that also claimed the lives of 18 Canadians.
Before clearing his schedule to meet with experts, Garneau said Tuesday he has no plans to ground Canada’s fleet of 737 Max 8 aircraft, but that “all options are on the table.”
Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash has raised concerns over parallels to a Lion Air crash of the same model of aircraft in Indonesia that killed 189 people last October.
Earlier Tuesday, authorities from more than half a dozen countries and regulators, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), announced grounding orders or airspace bans on the aircraft. By Tuesday evening, dozens of airlines had grounded the Max 8, leaving the majority of the nearly 390 Max 8s currently in service around the world confined to the hangar.
Air Canada, along with Southwest and American Airlines, are the major outliers.
Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc., said EASA’s suspension of all Max 8 and Max 9 planes puts “massive pressure” on Garneau.
“It’s really going to give the minister pause for thought,” he said. “I think they’ve been feeling an unprecedented level of heat from social media — both airlines and aviation regulators.”
Adding to the pressure, the Canadian Union of Public employees — which represents more than 8,000 Air Canada flight attendants — said late Tuesday that its members have safety concerns as a result of the recent crash and don’t want to be forced to fly on the Max 8.
“The Air Canada Component of CUPE who represents flight attendants at Air Canada mainline and Rouge is calling on the company to at a minimum continue to offer reassignment to crew members who do not want to fly on this type of airplane,” said component president, Wesley Lesosky, in a statement. “The safety of passengers and crews must be the absolute priority.”
Air Canada did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.
Air Canada has 24 Max 8 aircraft, which it uses mainly for domestic and U.S. routes, while Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. has 13 Max 8s.
A grounding order in Canada would prove costly for Canadian airlines, said Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management.
“It would have a considerable impact on both of them, because that’s a lot of flights every day,” he said.
“You’d have to cancel some flights. You’d try to use other planes, which are suboptimal. A Q-400 is too small. You could use two big planes, which means that you’re wasting money on fuel and you’re not making money.”
The airlines are also facing concerned passengers who want to re-book their flights to avoid the Max 8.
Flight Centre travel agency said Canadian airlines are not waiving flight-change or cancellation fees for passengers who want to switch to another aircraft.
Air Canada and WestJet did not respond to requests for comment on fee waiving.
“We continue to monitor the situation and based on current info, and recommendations by government safety regulators, Transport Canada, the FAA, and the manufacturer, we will continue to operate our normal B737 schedule and our current re-booking policies remain in place,” Air Canada said in a tweet Tuesday.
Larry Vance, an aviation consultant and former Transportation Safety Board investigator, cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between Sunday’s disaster and Lion Air Flight 610, which plunged into the Java Sea on Oct. 29.
The main similarities appear to be the aircraft model and the way the plane swiftly lost elevation after takeoff, briefly recovered and then plummeted to the ground.
“If I had a ticket to fly this afternoon and it was on that airplane, I would go to the airport, I would check in normally, I would get aboard the flight and go to sleep and enjoy my flight and get on with my day,” Vance said.
“The odds of me meeting my maker on that flight are as close to zero as you can get.”
At Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Tuesday, Air Canada passengers arriving from London gave mixed reactions about flying on the aircraft.
Angela Taylor, whose 22-year-old daughter was flying alone for the first time, said she felt the aircraft should be grounded in Canada.
“I was a bit perturbed Air Canada hadn’t suspended flights when Australia is not even letting any in or out,” said Taylor.
“You might be on the bandwagon, but for safety? Come on.”
Patricia Little, who was on the same flight as Taylor’s daughter, said riding the Max 8 didn’t worry her at all.
“I think it’s a whole lot of hype. I think there’s hundreds of thousands of planes that go, only one or two of them crash,” said Little, who lives in Saint John, N.B.
“Get a grip. You could die walking out there to your car.”
With files from Aly Thomson and Alison Auld
Companies in this story: (TSX:AC, TSX:WJA)
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Minority Government passes Bill C10 on internet freedom. Opponents pleading with Senate to block it.
Bill C 10 which is expected to fundamentally affect how Canadians experience the internet, has been hammered through the House of Commons. At 1:30 AM Ottawa time, the minority Liberal Government with help from the BQ and the NDP were able to pass the bill. In opposition were the federal Conservatives and lone Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould. The urgency to pass C 10 before an election call expected later this summer resulted in the Liberals actually shutting down debate at the committee level. That’s only happened twice in the history of the country before now! The Liberals also attempted to pass secret amendments which were caught by the Conservatives and ruled “out of order” by the House Speaker.
Why the rush? Opponents are concerned the Liberals, BQ, and NDP are far more concerned with regulating social media use, than they are with boosting individual Canadians creating new content. It appears the urgency has to do with giving themselves the ability to guide internet content, just in time for the federal election campaign.
OpenMedia.org, a group striving to keep the internet “open, affordable, and surveillance-free” calls the government’s bill “outrageously flawed”. The group published an article called “What’s wrong with Bill C 10?” which asks and answers 8 key questions surrounding C 10. The article provides excellent background knowledge for Canadians concerned about the future of the internet.
OpenMedia says the goal of the bill is to expand “Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet, including Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, and other popular streaming services.” Streaming services will be forced to make higher payments to the Canada Media Fund which would mean higher rates paid for Canadian users. According to OpenMedia streaming services will charge higher Canadian specific fees, and may even avoid Canada altogether.
OpenMedia calls C 10 a “cash-grab for traditional broadcast industries” which actually does nothing to serve the new wave of content creators who could really use a boost on the international stage. As a last ditch attempt to stop the bill, OpenMedia.org is urging Canadians to email the Senate right now to ask for a REAL democratic examination of Bill C-10.
Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre is especially concerned with the federal government giving itself the power to block unapproved ideas from popular content creators like himself, just in time for the next federal election. Surprisingly, and maybe most concerning of all, both OpenMedia and Pierre Poilievre point out the bill ‘DOESN’T ADDRESS WHAT CANADIAN CONTENT IS’. The current definition of “Canadian Content” was last updated in 1984, more than a decade before the internet changed everything.
Loss of Brother to Addiction and Mental Illness Inspires Sister to Raise Money by Selling Face Masks.
Starting June 10th, until midnight Sunday, June 13th customers across Canada can help raise funds for Mental Health Organizations in their own provinces by purchasing much needed luxury cotton face masks.
Jodee Prouse, from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, co-owner of Service Mask Supply (SMS) is the provider of one of Canada’s best-selling luxury 3-layer Cotton Face Masks. She announced today that they will be donating $1.00 from every mask purchase on June 10, 11, 12 and 13th to Mental Illness Programs and Organizations in communities across Canada. “We all look forward to when we no longer need to wear face masks,” says Jodee, “and we are getting really close. I am proud that we can provide a much-needed product and at the same time allow others the opportunity to come together to raise money for Mental Health in their own communities.”
SMS is excited to announce that for 4 days this week, $1.00 from every mask will be donated to different Mental Health Organizations across Canada. Customers can place their order online, each mask is $5.00, and will ship directly to their homes or businesses. Jodee is proud of her team and orders quickly ship the next business day, leaving from their warehouse in Alberta. All monies collected will go back into each province to where the order was shipped. As an example, Alberta portion will go back to Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta Division, Manitoba to Rainbow Resource Centre and so on. This allows every Canadian the opportunity to make a difference and take part.
From the beginning, SMS had an amazingly simple business model, originally supplying schools and oilfield companies: provide comfortable and affordable masks (each is only $5.00) with patterns that make people smile. Smile. It is what Jodee and her business partner son Ryan believes we need more of right now during these unprecedented times. “My son and I, at different times in our lives, have both struggled with anxiety and depression. We lost a much-loved member of our family when our brother/uncle lost his battle with mental illness and alcoholism when he took his own life in March of 2012. He was only 39. This helped solidify our commitment to helping to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding mental health.”
Now more than ever we want to bring communities together. And remind people they are not alone.
SMS is proud to be celebrating over 17,000 customers across Canada this week. They know that much of their success has been driven by their passionate customers, repeat business and recommendations to family, friends, and co-workers. “It fills my heart to receive not only Facebook messages and emails daily on how much they love our masks,” says Jodee, “but also the heartfelt words where strangers feel comfortable and safe enough to share some of their own mental health or addiction challenges.”
SMS has over 150 unique colors and patterns with such unique designs as sunflowers, flamingo’s, tie dye, dog lover, pretty kitties, fishing lures, butterflies, hearts, breast cancer, yoga, fine wine, pride, cupcakes and many more. Great for work, play, indoors and outdoors too with sizes for the whole family.
Learn more visit: www.servicemasksupply.ca
For more information you can email [email protected]
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