March 12, 2019 / 3:57 PM / 2 months ago

Canada sees no reason to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8, ready to act if need be

FILE PHOTO - Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada has no plans to ground Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 aircraft but is ready to “act immediately” to suspend flights if new information emerges indicating there is a problem, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Tuesday.

His comments come as a growing number of nations suspended operations of the plane after a crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people, just five months after a deadly crash in Indonesia involving the same model.

Garneau said Canada had not received any new information concerning the Ethiopian crash that would prompt it to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes but that all options were on the table.

“If we received information or explanations that indicate that there’s a problem ... certainly we’ll act immediately,” he told reporters in Montreal.

“I asked my team to evaluate all available options, which includes possibly temporarily grounding some planes - the MAX 8 planes - so we’re ready to do so, if we decide to do so.”

Garneau said later on Twitter he had canceled all his meetings and public events for Tuesday so he could consult with a panel of civil aviation experts. Canada’s two main airlines - Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd - operate a total of 37 737 MAX 8 planes.

Garneau is due to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) on Wednesday in Ottawa to discuss the matter, but there are no immediate plans to order carriers to stop operating the aircraft, a government source said later on Tuesday.

The source - who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation - said Canadian authorities were working very closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which said on Tuesday it would not ground the plane.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney

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