Canada Grounds All Boeing 737MAX Aircraft. Now What?
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2019, 2 P.M. ET -- I wanted to update you on the situation surrounding the Boeing 737MAX now that Canada's regulators have ordered the aircraft grounded.

Here are the facts:
    + Canada's ban covers both the 737MAX8--the aircraft involved in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes--and the 737MAX9, which has had no incidents.
    + Air Canada operates 24 MAX8 planes and says as many as 12,000 passengers a day will be involved in the grounding. WestJet operates 13 aircraft and that represents 8 percent of its fleet.
    + The ban naturally includes any U.S. carriers--American, Southwest and United--that may use the MAX8/MAX9 planes on transborder routes.
    + Air Canada said earlier today that it had already cancelled 737MAX flights to London from Halifax and St. John's due to yesterday's grounding in the United Kingdom. Air Canada also flies the planes to Hawaii as well as intra-Canada and cross-border. There are also many Air Canada and WestJet flights to Caribbean destinations.

In making his announcement, Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau essentially made a "better safe than sorry" argument. He admits he has no verified information that correlates the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes to flight ops in the United States or Canada. However, he said Transport Canada received satellite data overnight "suggesting … possible, although unproven, similarities in the flying" between the Ethiopian flight Sunday and last year's Lion Air crash.

The U.S. FAA says it examined the same satellite data referenced by Garneau and came to a different conclusion.

The Canadian move may or may not pressure the FAA to act. The United States is the last major nation that permits the plane to fly. But the FAA and the pilots of the three U.S. airlines that fly the MAX have issued firm statements saying they support the plane and the decision to keep them flying.

Practically, if you are booked on an Air Canada or WestJet flight in the days ahead, the grounding could affect you even if you're not scheduled to fly a MAX aircraft. Both carriers are likely to juggle schedules and move some other aircraft on at least a few of those current MAX routes. So watch for cancellations around the Air Canada and WestJet systems--and cancellations on short notice. Confirm and reconfirm your flights carefully in the days ahead.

If you are booked on a U.S. carrier into Canada, check your schedule carefully. Some transborder routes will be crippled but U.S. airlines will move aircraft around. That will affect other flights, of course. And please remember: Both Southwest and American have been suffering greater-than-usual cancellations. Southwest because it claims mechanics are writing up airworthy aircraft as part of a six-year battle over contracts. And American because it has more than a dozen Boeing 737-800s on the ground because of faulty internal reconfigurations.

UPDATE AT 2:40 P.M. ET: TRUMP ANNOUNCES U.S. GROUNDING
Because this situation doesn't get any crazier: President Donald Trump has just announced that Boeing 737MAX8 and 737MAX9 flights will be grounded. He made the announcement on television--and did not say if he consulted the FAA in advance. Trump claims he was working with Canada. He says the FAA will issue a statement soon. As you probably know by now, American operates 24 MAX aircraft, Southwest 34. Both of those are MAX8 aircraft. United operates the 737MAX9.