Advertisement

Is air travel back in full swing? What new Statistics Canada data suggests

Click to play video: 'Can Flair Airlines survive as the lone low-cost carrier in Canada?'
Can Flair Airlines survive as the lone low-cost carrier in Canada?
WATCH - Can Flair Airlines survive as the lone low-cost carrier in Canada? – Mar 29, 2024

Travel through Canadian airports is slowly creeping back to pre-pandemic levels, new Statistics Canada findings suggest.

In April, seven out of eight Canadian airports reported higher volumes of passenger traffic each year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the findings released Wednesday.

This year, 4.3 million travellers passed through pre-board security screening in April, a four per cent increase from the previous year.

StatCan notes that the numbers still remain “slightly below” pre-pandemic levels, with 1.6 per cent fewer passengers travelling through Canada’s airports in April 2024 than in April 2019.

Click to play video: 'What the Lynx Air shutdown means for travel competition in Canada'
What the Lynx Air shutdown means for travel competition in Canada

However, travel expert Robert Kokonis is optimistic about StatCan’s new data regarding the future of travel through Canada’s airports.

Story continues below advertisement

“The air transport sector in Canada is tracking ahead of the first full post-pandemic recovery year 2023, and in some cases, tracking ahead and expected to surpass 2019 pre-pandemic passenger volumes by year-end 2024,” Kokonis told Global News.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“This speaks to the continued appetite of passengers to travel again by air, with leisure and visiting friends and families segments continuing to lead the recovery.”

Travelling by air for business has been lagging for short-haul trips, Kokonis says, but is still generally making its way back to pre-pandemic levels as well.

Out of the eight airports surveyed by StatCan, Calgary International was the only one to report a slight decline (0.3 per cent) in passenger traffic this year compared with April 2023.

Three airports reported higher screened passenger volumes this year than in April 2019, before the pandemic. Calgary International saw a 0.3 per cent bump, Vancouver International reported 0.2 per more traffic and Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International saw a six per cent difference.

StatCan’s new data also reveals a year-over-year growth of trans-border and other international flights in April 2024, “albeit at a slower pace than in previous months.”

StatCan’s findings come after Air Canada reported an $81-million loss in its first quarter this year, falling below analysts’ expectations even as revenue and capacity ramped up.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Heathrow Airport expecting its busiest ever summer. What does that mean for Canadians?'
Heathrow Airport expecting its busiest ever summer. What does that mean for Canadians?

Canadians’ diminishing appetite for post-pandemic travel yielded thinner profit margins on fares, while a 21 per cent year-over-year rise in labour costs drove up overall expenses, the company said.

“As expected, pent-up demand and ‘revenge travel’ factors are slowing over time,” said Mark Galardo, head of revenue and network planning.

Conversely, London’s Heathrow Airport said in April it’s anticipating this summer will be its busiest to date after surpassing passenger records in the first quarter of 2024.

About 82.4 million passengers are projected to travel through the airport this year, the airport said.

— with files from The Canadian Press

Sponsored content

AdChoices