Transport Minister Marc Garneau is scheduled to address Canada’s plan and safety concerns regarding the Boeing 737 Max 8. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Garneau to update Canada’s position on Boeing 737 Max 8 as pressure mounts

OTTAWA — Transport Minister Marc Garneau is set to update Ottawa’s position on the Boeing 737 Max 8, the aircraft that crashed in Ethiopia, and whether Canada will fall in line with other nations that have grounded the planes.

Garneau is scheduled to address Canada’s plan and safety concerns regarding the Max 8, but it’s not yet clear whether he will impose similar restrictions on the aircraft.

The update comes after Toronto-based Sunwing Airlines announced late Tuesday that it is temporarily grounding its four Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the wake of the crash in Addis Ababa that killed all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians.

Sunwing says it made the decision for “evolving commercial reasons” unrelated to safety, including airspace restrictions being imposed in other countries.

Garneau is facing an escalating dilemma over the aircraft, which is being grounded or banned by a growing number of countries after the accident that some experts have said has parallels to a Lion Air crash of the same model of aircraft in Indonesia that killed 189 people last October.

Garneau said Tuesday that he has no plans to ground Canada’s fleet of the Max 8 aircraft, but that ”all options are on the table.”

Lebanon and Kosovo barred the aircraft from their airspace today, and Norwegian Air Shuttles said it would seek compensation from Boeing after grounding its fleet. Egypt banned the operation of the aircraft.

The U.S.-based Boeing has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.

Earlier Tuesday, authorities from more than half a dozen countries and regulators, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), announced grounding orders or airspace bans on the aircraft.

By Tuesday evening, dozens of airlines had grounded the Max 8, leaving the majority of the nearly 390 Max 8s currently in service around the world confined to the hangar.

Air Canada, along with Southwest and American Airlines, are the major outliers.

Air Canada has 24 Max 8 aircraft, which it uses mainly for domestic and U.S. routes, while Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. has 13 Max 8s.

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