Canada’s major airlines are being inundated on social media with questions about the safety of their fleet in the wake of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.
The accident, which killed all 157 aboard the Boeing 737 Max 8 — including 18 Canadians — raised concerns over parallels to a Lion Air crash of the same model of aircraft in Indonesia last October, killing 189 people.
Angie Hung, scheduled for a WestJet flight June 5 from Calgary to Halifax en route to Scotland for a Spice Girls concert, was one of scores of Canadians asking airlines if they planned to ground the Max 8, the plane listed on her flight.
“I am planning to tweet, ‘I love you mom and dad,’” she said in an interview, “in case something bad happens.”
“If I could afford to cancel and change it I would,” said Hung, 42.
Fernando Candido, an Edmonton-based elementary school teacher, said he flies up to 10 times per year.
“I’m kind of worried. I’m sure eventually I’ll have to use one of those planes,” said Candido, 58. “Maybe in Canada they should not fly those planes any more until they figure out those issues.”
The country’s two largest airlines said they are confident in the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8.
Air Canada said in an email it has 24 Max 8 aircraft, which fly routes that include Vancouver to Montreal and Calgary to Vancouver.
“These aircraft have performed excellently from a safety, reliability and customer satisfaction perspective,” said spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur. “We continue to operate our normal B737 schedule.”
In response to concerns raised by social media users, WestJet Airlines Ltd. tweeted Monday that it is not grounding any of the 13 Max 8s in its fleet of 121 Boeing 737s.
“WestJet remains confident in the safety of our Boeing 737 fleet,” spokeswoman Morgan Bell said in an email. The airline is “working with Boeing to ensure the continued safe operation of our Max fleet,” she said.
The Calgary-based company has orders for 37 more 737s on the books.
WestJet has flown five different models of the 737 since the airline was founded in 1996, and now operates about 450 daily departures of the plane series, according to the company.
The Boeing jetliner is relatively new, entering into service at both airlines in 2017.
Ethiopian Airlines as well as all Chinese and Indonesian airlines have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes indefinitely in the wake of the crash, which occurred after takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
The Air Canada Pilots Association said it is “is actively engaged in monitoring the situation as it develops.”
The unions for Air Canada and WestJet flight crews declined to comment on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press