WestJet today returned the first of its 737 MAX aircraft to passenger service with the departure of WS115 from Calgary to Vancouver. With the second 737 MAX flight, WS122, from Vancouver to Calgary departing at noon PT.
On board the first flight were 71 guests including Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO, Chris Burley, WestJet Board Chair and Chris Rauenbusch, President, CUPE Local 4070 and a member of WestJet's Inflight team. The aircraft was piloted by Captain David Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council Chair, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and Captain Scott Wilson, Vice President WestJet Operations.
"The return of WestJet's MAX aircraft to the fleet marks an operational milestone after 22 months of intense review," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "WestJet's preparation, training processes, due diligence and safety above all philosophy drives our confidence in welcoming guests on board our MAX aircraft."
Captain David Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council Chair, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said, "For nearly two years, ALPA has been working tirelessly with Transport Canada, international regulators, and airline management on reviewing the MAX and the revised pilot training requirements needed to safely return this aircraft to service. No one knows better than airline pilots what is needed to be adequately prepared and trained to manage the handling qualities of this renewed aircraft. Today, as we usher the safe return of the MAX in Canada, ALPA will continue to provide its expertise and voice of safety in future discussions."
"I was proud to operate the MAX aircraft today on its first commercial flight since the Canadian skies reopened," said Captain Scott Wilson, WestJet Vice President Operations. "I am confident with the changes made to the aircraft and our training procedures, our MAX is one of the safest aircraft in the skies."
Chris Rauenbusch, President CUPE Local 4070 said, "CUPE Local 4070, the union representing WestJet cabin crew members, has full confidence in the return of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the workplace of our membership. Union representatives participated in a full technical briefing at Boeing facilities in Seattle, WA and following further data from Transport Canada, Boeing and WestJet, the union is confident that this aircraft type is safe for our cabin crew and our guests."
WestJet announced on January 6, the airline's phased and transparent approach to the return to service of the Boeing MAX aircraft. In addition, the airline has created a variety of resources to assist guests in feeling comfortable, including a behind-the-scenes video looking at the pilot and maintenance team efforts that went into safely returning the aircraft to the skies. Details can be found on the website: www.westjet.com/maxinfo.