Cargo growth continues at Hamilton’s airport, as pandemic stifles passenger traffic

German-based logistics giant DHL completed its $100 million expansion last fall, and opened it's new facility at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. CNW Group/DHL Express Canada

Hamilton’s airport moved more cargo in 2021 as passenger traffic continued to fall amidst COVID-19 restrictions.

An annual report presented by President and CEO Cathie Puckering shows that 766 million kilograms of cargo moved through Hamilton International Airport last year, an increase of 44 per cent since 2019.

During the same period, Puckering said passenger movement dropped by two-thirds, or 66 per cent, but she expects a rebound to begin this summer.

“We know there’s pent-up demand out there, we know that Swoop is adding more service into our market as will Westjet, and the return of Sunwing and Transat at the end of this year,” said Puckering. “What our role is, is really getting those bums in seats.”

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Cole Horncastle, the airport’s managing director, added that collectively, Swoop and Westjet will operate an additional 21 weekly flights in and out of Hamilton this summer, mostly to Maritime destinations.

“We’re pleased to plan for a summer that will be approximately 70 to 80 per cent of what 2019 traffic was,” Horncastle said.

The airport’s annual report indicates that just over 250,000 passengers flew through Hamilton International Airport in 2021, down from a record 955,000 passengers prior to the pandemic in 2019.

Officials project that about 4,700 people are now working in jobs created through the airport’s activity, most of them related to goods movement.

“For the most part, you’ve got every major cargo operator in Canada, operating now from Hamilton,” stressed Puckering.

Amazon opened its new fulfillment centre in the airport employment district last month, while DHL can process 28,000 packages each hour through an international gateway facility that opened last September.

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