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Latin Americans love Vancouver as YVR passenger numbers seek record year

An Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER wide-body jetliner takes off from Vancouver International Airport, Richmond, B.C. on Feb. 16. (File photo).
An Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER wide-body jetliner takes off from Vancouver International Airport, Richmond, B.C. on Feb. 16. (File photo). Bayne Stanley/The Canadian Press

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is on track to break another passenger number record by the end of 2016 with 10.5 million visitors so far this year.

It’s an 8.1 per cent increase over the January to June period last year, largely thanks to a surge in traffic from Latin America, according to numbers released by YVR.

Visitors from Central and South America increased by 20 per cent, marking the strongest year-over-year growth for all international destinations into and out of YVR.

It’s in part due to a new Aeromexico route between Mexico City and Vancouver that began in December 2015, alongside Air Canada’s service to the region.

Traffic to and from Asia also saw a boost of 12.9 per cent with new service to Osaka, Japan and Kunming, China, and increased service to Taipei, Taiwan and Soeul, South Korea.

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The airport also expects the new non-stop service to Brisbane, Australia and Delhi, India will lift numbers even further by the end of the year.

Like Asia, traffic from Europe also increased 12.9 per cent thanks to new flights to Rome and Dublin and increased service to London.

Despite the low Canadian dollar – an incentive from American travellers to head up north – U.S. traffic only increased 3.8 per cent year-over-year. YVR says it was the new non-stop service from Air Canada to San Jose, San Diego, and Chicago, and new WestJet service to Orlando and San Diego, that bumped up the passenger numbers.

They expect the new 787-7 Dreamliner service between Vancouver and Newark, New Jersey that started in June will grow the U.S. market further by year end.

While not making a huge impact on U.S. traffic, the Canadian Dollar might be keeping people at home. Domestic numbers moved up 7.6 per cent.

Records may be set

President and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, Craig Richmond says YVR is expecting to surpass a record 21 million passengers in 2016, slightly up from the record-smashing 20 million counted in 2015.

“We have an ambitious goal of 25 million passengers by 2020. We will achieve this by working together to support new and existing services, connecting British Columbia proudly to the world,” said Richmond in a release.

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According to the airport, reaching 25 million passengers by 2020 would add 5,000 to 7,000 more jobs at YVR, generate $2.7 billion in GDP, and add more than $800 million in tax revenue to all three levels of government.

YVR traffic increases chart

YVR traffic increases chart