March 4th, 2024

WestJet could face costly delivery delays due to panel blowout on Boeing plane

By The Canadian Press on February 12, 2024.

A WestJet logo is seen in the domestic check-in area at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Friday, May 19, 2023. The fallout from a mid-flight panel blowout on a Boeing Co.-made plane last month has reached Canada, as WestJet faces indefinite delays on dozens of aircraft deliveries.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The fallout from a mid-flight panel blowout on a Boeing Co.-made 737 Max plane last month has reached Canada, as WestJet confronts indefinite delays on dozens of aircraft deliveries.

The Calgary-based carrier bought 42 Boeing 737 Max 10 jetliners in 2022, with options for 22 more – on top of nearly two dozen earlier Max orders still in the pipeline.

The multibillion-dollar deals were slated to bolster WestJet’s fleet by at least 65 planes – 50 of them Max 10s – by 2029 in a move the airline called a “game-changer” that would reduce fuel costs and “underpin” its growth.

However, the Max 10 has yet to receive final certification, and after the panel incident, regulators said they would halt any production expansion at Boeing until a full investigation was complete – a process that could take over a year.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration temporarily grounded the 737 Max 9 and launched a probe after a panel known as a door plug tore away from the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines plane at 16,000 feet on Jan. 5, leaving a refrigerator-sized hole in the cabin wall and prompting an emergency landing.

WestJet says it continues to work closely with Boeing on delivery timelines and believes the growth plan for its fleet has some flexibility.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024.

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