Canada Grounds Boeing 737 Max as FAA Loses One of Last Allies

March 13, 2019, 4:08 PM UTC

Canada suspended flights on Boeing Co.’s 737 Max, joining a global rush to ground the single-aisle jetliner after the second deadly crash in five months.

The safety notice restricts the 737 Max 8 or Max 9 from operating or overflying Canada, effective immediately, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Wednesday in Ottawa. The decision was based on new but inconclusive satellite data that suggests similarities between a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash March 10 and a deadly October accident in Indonesia.

Canada is halting flights of the 737 Max a day after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reiterated its view that there is “no basis’’ for grounding Boeing’s revamped single-aisle workhorse, which debuted in May 2017. The jet’s operations have already been blocked by regulators in China, the U.K., the European Union a slew of other countries.

“There can’t be any Max 8 or Max 9 aircraft flying into, out of or across Canada,” he said, confirming that it affects domestic carriers like Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing, as well as international airlines.

Boeing erased a share gain on the announcement and fell less than 1 percent to $374.29 at 12:05 p.m. in New York. The company lost almost $27 billion in market value this week through Tuesday after posting the biggest two-day drop in almost a decade.

Possible Similarities

Garneau said satellite tracking data suggests possible “similarities” between the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes. He stressed that it’s not conclusive but that it was enough to order the safety measures. The new information was received overnight, he said.

“There are some similarities between the two profiles,” he said, referring to the fatal flights. “Hopefully we’ll be able to resolve this issue in the coming weeks and get the Max 8 back up and flying, but for the moment, caution has to dominate.”

A total of 18 Canadians were killed in the latest crash.

“This was a great loss for our country, so it is something that has really viscerally caught the attention of Canadians,” Garneau said.

Air Canada has 24 of the 737 Max jets, according to company data. Calgary-based WestJet operates 13. Sunwing has four of the planes.

WestJet dropped 1.8 percent to C$19.56. Air Canada fell for a second day, down 1.8 percent to C$31.48.