WestJet Airlines Ltd. chief executive officer Ed Sims plans to take his family on the first Boeing 737 Max 8 that re-enters the company’s service as a testament to his confidence in the aircraft’s safety.

“At WestJet, we will do all we can to provide the reassurance that these aircraft will likely be the safest narrow-body aircraft to ever enter service,” Sims told reporters at company’s annual general meeting in Calgary on Tuesday.

“Almost certainly, I and my family will be on the very first flight that’s reintroduced to service, and I think it’s only appropriate that as a leader of this organization I should put my own personal commitment behind the safety standards of this aircraft.”

Sims said he sees a path for the aircraft to be back in service sometime in the second half of the year. However, he acknowledged that getting customers to feel safe boarding the Boeing 737 Max will be challenging.

“We think that’s probably the single-biggest challenge is that while we feel confident in the change in technical procedures, there will be guests who will have read the same media that we all have read, who will feel that degree of discomfort,” he said.  

WestJet’s 13 Boeing 737 Max 8s – which account for about 10 per cent of its total seat capacity – remain out of service after the aircraft was grounded worldwide following a second fatal crash in March that Boeing linked to a safety alert issue.

WestJet said Tuesday the groundings weighed on the company’s first-quarter revenue and may have an even greater impact on its second-quarter results.