Discount carrier Flair Airlines said Wednesday that it will add 13 new Boeing 737 Max aircraft to its fleet, as the plane returns to service worldwide following a nearly two-year grounding.
Flair's new planes will be delivered in early 2021, giving the airline additional capacity at a time when other Canadian carriers are cutting routes and laying off staff in response to a challenging business environment.
"These planes will enable us to keep fares low while expanding our service to meet travel demand," Stephen Jones, Flair's president and CEO, said in a statement.
The Edmonton-based airline will lease the planes from one of its investors, 777 Partners, which owns 25 per cent of Flair, the carrier said. Each plane will be able to carry 189 passengers and travel a maximum of 6,570 km for each trip, Flair said.
The addition of the new Max aircraft puts Flair on track to achieve its goal of growing to 50 planes within five years, Flair added. It currently operates three Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The Max was grounded in Canadian airspace for nearly two years beginning in March 2019, after two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Jones said Flair's new Max aircraft will be subject to additional scrutiny prior to being put into service.
“In advance of the new 737-8 aircraft joining our fleet of existing 737-800s, Flair’s team of pilots, maintenance professionals, flight attendants and safety officers will conduct extensive testing and training programs,” Jones said.
Other airlines have announced plans to offer flexible change and cancellation policies to passengers scheduled to fly on the Max, in an effort to drum up travel demand and cater to people with lingering reservations about boarding the plane.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. was the first airline in Canada to return its Max aircraft to service, operating a flight from Calgary to Vancouver on Jan. 21.
On Monday, Air Canada is set to operate its first Max flight since the grounding order was lifted. Sunwing Airlines Inc., which also flies the Max, hasn't yet announced plans for returning its planes to service.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.
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Jon Victor, The Canadian Press