Canada’s WestJet Cancels 15 Boeing 737 MAX Orders

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Canada’s second-largest carrier, WestJet, is canceling part of its 737 MAX order as it looks to reduce its expenditures and ‘right-size’ its fleet amid the downturn in travel demand. The airline will not be taking 15 of the jets, leaving 27 737 MAXs on order.

Westjet 737 max
The airline has also reduced its workforce in order to limit financial losses. Photo: Acefitt via Wikimedia Commons 

Shrinking WestJet’s 737 MAX fleet

Even though WestJet’s 737 MAXs are now certified to fly in Canada and also to the United States, the carrier has been forced to cut part of its order with Boeing. The CBC reports that the airline has canceled orders for 15 of the jets.

Despite canceling orders for 15 jets, the airline will still operate the type and take delivery of more. The airline has disclosed that it still has 27 of the type on order – a number that also appears on Boeing’s website.

According to data from Planespotters.net, the airline has already taken delivery of 14 aircraft – all being the MAX 8 variant. However, just three of these have been returned to service.

Westjet 737 max
WestJet originally ordered 65 737 MAX jets from Boeing. Photo: Acefitt via Wikimedia Commons 

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From 65 to 41

It was back on September 26th, 2013, that Boeing issued a statement noting that it had completed an order with WestJet for 65 737 MAX airplanes, fulfilling the carrier’s letter of intent to purchase the airplanes previously announced on August 29th.

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“The 737 MAX is an excellent complement to the WestJet fleet and its low-cost business model…The airplane’s efficiency, reliability and passenger amenities will enable WestJet to continue to provide its customers high-quality service at a low cost.”Brad McMullen, vice president of North America Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (2013)

At the time, the order was valued at $6.3 billion at list prices. The order consisted of 40 737 MAX 8s and 25 737 MAX 7s and was a key component of WestJet’s fleet renewal initiative. To date, WestJet has not taken delivery of any MAX 7 aircraft.

Westjet 737 max
WestJet was the fifth carrier globally and the first carrier in Canada to resume operations with the 737 MAX. Photo: Acefitt via Wikimedia Commons 

Of course, if you’re keeping track of the math, the numbers don’t add up. With WestJet’s recent cancelation of 15, an existing fleet of 14, and a reported 27 still to be delivered, we are presented with a total of 56 jets. This, of course, is nine short of the 65 ordered in 2013.

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We couldn’t seem to find reports of any other cancelations and have inquired with WestJet about the numbers. At the time of publication, no response was received from the carrier.

Government funding may come soon

The cancelation has been driven by the ongoing global health crisis and the subsequent travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. This has severely restricted movement and hampered demand as authorities hope to manage the spread of the virus – particularly the more contagious variants. Thus, with low travel numbers expected for quite some time, WestJet is no longer able to take advantage of the additional capacity offered by newly added aircraft.

While Canadian airlines have largely had to rely on general government COVID-19 assistance to help with employee wages, anticipation is building that the Canadian government will soon announce a sector-specific bailout package. Even though airlines have been expressing hope since mid-February, we have yet to see anything come from Ottawa.

Do you think we’ll see any more airlines canceling their orders of 737 MAX jets? Let us know your predictions by leaving a comment.

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