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Airports and air travellers across Canada and around most of the world were scrambling on Wednesday after the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts were grounded, and Winnipeg was no exception.
Travellers to and from Winnipeg Richardson International Airport only experienced two cancellations because of the Max 8 grounding Wednesday — a WestJet arrival that was scheduled for 7:59 p.m. from Toronto and that same plane’s scheduled departure at 9:00 p.m. to Calgary.
One WestJet 737 Max 8 arrived in Winnipeg from Toronto earlier in the day but industry officials said the airline brought in another plane to cover the Max 8’s flight that was supposed to go back out.
“We’re still assessing the overall impact,” said Tyler MacAfee, Winnipeg Airports Authority director of corporate communications and government affairs on Wednesday afternoon. “The news is still pretty fresh.”
Winnipeg gets about 54 Max 8 aircraft in a typical month during the current schedule. MacAfee said that model does not dominate any one particular route in or out of Winnipeg so it’s not like any one destination will be particularly affected.
But he said most of the travelling public will be affected.
“People may be travelling from Winnipeg to Toronto connecting to somewhere else. The flight to Toronto might not be impacted but maybe the connecting flight out of Toronto will be,” he said. “It will have ripple effect throughout the industry.”
He said while this is a unique scenario, airlines are used to reorganizing their fleets, for instance when there is a weather event somewhere that grounds planes in one locale and requires them to bring in rescue aircraft with larger capacity.
To see if your flight has been affected, travellers should check with their airlines or look at the airport authorities’ website, www.waa.ca.
The news of the grounding of the 737 Max 8 after recent crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia was met with approval by some.
Kellen Deighton, the brother of Danielle Moore’s long-term boyfriend Colby Deighton, said he was relieved to see Canada reverse course Wednesday morning and join the growing list of countries that have grounded or banned the 737 Max 8 jetliners.
Moore, 24 of Winnipeg, was one of 18 Canadians killed in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plane crash. Originally from Scarborough, Ont., she’d been en route to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in the prestigious United Nation Environment Assembly, at the time of the crash.
In the wake of her death, Deighton, alongside other friends of Moore, were beginning efforts to pressure Canada into grounding all 737 Max 8 airliners until an investigation into what – if any – safety issues there were with the planes.
“I watched the news conference and I’m happy with Minister Garneau’s decision. I’m not sure what information he received recently that the rest of the world was seeing in real time, but whatever changed his mind I’m happy with the outcome,” Deighton said.
“My first thought was – well, I was emotional for sure. I’m not under any illusions it had anything to do with what we were doing, I’m just grateful he heard the voices of the people. My brother texted me as soon as he hear the news and I know he’s very grateful too.”
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.