Air passengers doubled in Canada as flight delays plagued airports last year

Click to play video: 'Canadian government changing air travel rules'
Canadian government changing air travel rules
WATCH: Canadian government changing air travel rules – Apr 24, 2023

Canadian airports saw more than 100 million travellers last year as flight disruptions and long lines plagued passengers across the country.

New data released by Statistics Canada on Friday showed that the number of air travellers landing and taking off at Canadian airports more than doubled in 2022 compared to the previous year, reaching 117.3 million.

Canada eased COVID-19 travel rules in March 2022 before scrapping the pandemic-related measures altogether last October.

That coupled with pent-up demand to travel after two years of the pandemic led to an uptick in the number of air travellers entering and leaving the country, StatCan said.

Canada’s four largest airports – Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary – all reported twice the number of passengers as in 2021.

“The unexpected sharp increase in passenger volume during the busy summer travel season left some major airports grappling with challenges largely stemming from staffing-related problems,” StatCan said.

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Over the summer period last year, there was a mountain of complaints from travellers about flight delays, cancellations, long airport queues and lost luggage.

A severe winter storm over Christmas also impacted air travel operations during the busy winter holiday season. Some Canadian passengers were stranded in sunny destinations, sleeping on airport floors and shuffled between hotels.

Click to play video: 'Air Canada disruptions: continued delays, cancellations stir frustration among nationwide customers'
Air Canada disruptions: continued delays, cancellations stir frustration among nationwide customers

International air traffic more than tripled last year, with 25 million travellers coming and going at Canadian airports, StatCan data showed.

Cross-border air travel to and from the United States was also up to 20 million passengers – a 335 per cent jump compared to 2021.

Within Canada, there were 71.4 million travellers – doubling the number of people on domestic flights from the year before.

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In preparation for this summer, the air travel sector rolled out a series of measures, from hiring more staff to technological advancements. Even still, flight delays continue to plague Canada’s two biggest airlines.

Click to play video: 'Air travel has seen ‘significant improvement’ in efficiency, but more work to be done: Alghabra'
Air travel has seen ‘significant improvement’ in efficiency, but more work to be done: Alghabra

Air Canada delayed or cancelled nearly 2,000 flights over the Canada Day long weekend

Overall, only 50 per cent of Air Canada’s flights were on time between June 19 and July 16, according to statistics from aviation data firm Cirium.

In comparison, 64 per cent of WestJet’s flights touched down on time.

There is increased pressure on accountability as strengthened air passenger rights measures proposed by the federal government loom.

Tabled in the House of Commons last month, Bill C-52 paves the way for new rules requiring airports and other air travel operators to create service standards and publish data that can be compared against those benchmarks.

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Omar Alghabra, former transport minister who stepped down from the cabinet ahead of a massive shuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said earlier this month that the air travel sector has seen “significant improvement” but more work needs to be done.

Pablo Rodriguez, Quebec MP and former heritage minister, will take the reins as minister of transport.

— with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Uday Rana

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