Officials announced on Friday that 18 million travellers passed through the airport in 2019. That number is 3.5 per cent more than the airport recorded in 2018 — an increase of over 600,000 guests.
In addition to seeing more passengers than ever before, the airport saw more cargo business too, with 4,305 landings recorded in 2019 — a 6.6 per cent increase from 2018.
The spike comes even though airports around the world were forced to adjust after airlines pulled Boeing 737 Max 8 jets from their schedules in March following two fatal crashes of the plane in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Calgary airport officials estimate the grounding of the jet translated to 2,300 fewer flights and 300,000 fewer available seats from or through YYC.
YYC Calgary International Airport was the fourth most-impacted airport in North America and eighth-most impacted in the world by the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 in terms of flights, according to InterVISTAS.
“Last year’s increased traffic can be credited, in part, to the success of WestJet’s Dreamliner routes to markets in Europe with direct service to London Gatwick, Paris and Dublin,” a Friday news release explained.
“An economic engine driving growth in challenging economic times, YYC continues to add $8 billion in GDP to our region and supports approximately 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.”
Calgary Economic Development CEO Mary Moran said airports are indeed key economic drivers, mainly due to the number of people they employ.
“There is no question that we have many companies and individuals who have moved here, who have talked about the access to flights to other destinations as the reason for why they’ve selected Calgary as their city of choice,” Morgan told Global News.
She said having Canadian airline WestJet continue to operate its headquarters out of Calgary also helps the economy.
“Having a strong airport and a strong airline here is really, really important to our economic recovery,” Morgan said.