VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Booking a summertime flight might cost you more as Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes remain grounded.
Nearly 400 have been out of commission worldwide because of two deadly crashes in recent months and final approval of software upgrades that cost Boeing more than a billion dollars is not expected before mid-August or possibly later.
The two flights, a Lion Air one in October and an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March killed a total of 346 people, including 18 Canadians.
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Some flights have been suspended by WestJet and Air Canada which have been using other planes since March 13th, but aviation journalist Mark Miller says as demand goes up, so will prices.
“There will be pressure because we’re about to go on to the busy, busy summer flying season. The indication was these airplanes would be back for at least a portion of that flying season. Now it looks like we might catch the tail end. It is challenging for the airlines. Their costs have gone up,” he says.
“As demand goes up, prices will also rise, so if there are fewer seats, we’ll just see a rise in prices. If you want to fly, you’ll be able to still get the flights. Remember that WestJet has increased it’s capacity by adding its 787 flights to Europe, so that’s going to help take some pressure off.”
Miller also stresses Transport Canada’s not cutting any corners.
“They were the first to basically ground the airplanes in North America. It has already been a disaster. You can imagine it would be a catastrophe if there was another incident with this airplane if it was allowed to go back in the air without Boeing having proven the software upgrades are implemented.”
Boeing has been reimbursing airlines forced to use other planes.
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Meanwhile, the CEO of the company involved in March’s crash that killed 157 people says Ethiopian Airlines may never fly the Max planes again. Tewolde Gebremariam told NBC News that plane won’t be used unless the airline, its pilots and the travelling public are convinced it’s safe.
“If we fly them again, we will be the last airline to fly them again,” he says.
Transport Canada has issued a statement confirming current restrictions will stay in effect until authorities are ‘fully satisfied’ all concerns have been addressed by the manufacturer and adequate flight crew training procedures are in place.