Vancouver International Airport registered another strong performance in 2014 to set new record for passenger traffic – a historic record of more than 19.358-million passengers. This represents a one-year increase of more than 1.386-million passengers, a jump of 7.16 per cent over 2013’s record of 17.972-million, according to the latest statistics released by the Vancouver Airport Authority.
This includes 10.088-million domestic passengers (+6.4%), 4.714-million U.S./transborder passengers (+8.7%), 2.84-million Asia-Pacific passengers (+8.9%), 1.279-million Europe passengers (+5.59%), and 437,535 passengers for other international regions (+0.7%).
With the effects of the 2008 global recession wearing off, there has been an uptick in air travel demand and Vancouver has become a more popular tourist destination thanks to marketing efforts and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Other factors include a surge in visitor numbers from China, India and Mexico and a rebounding cruise ship industry.
New and additional traffic also came from the airport’s newest routes: a twice-weekly, non-stop service by Icelandair and a daily non-stop service by All Nippon Airways to Tokyo Haneda Airport. However, the airport lost Virgin Atlantic’s seasonal route to London after just two years.
This year’s significant growth can be compared to the years after YVR secured open skies with the U.S. and the post-9/11 and SARS recovery growth spurt in 2003/2004.
When it comes to cargo volume, the airport handled 256,934 tonnes of cargo in 2014 – an increase of 11 per cent over the previous year and the highest volume since the all-time record of 269,129 tonnes in 1999.
There was a slight year-over-year growth with YVR’s aircraft movements, but it has remained relatively stable since 1992. Since the 1990s, more local and regional flights, including private aircraft, have been opting to use other regional airports, making way for more space for larger aircraft to use YVR as a passenger airline hub.
A new benchmark of 20-million passengers is likely by the end of 2015. Vancouver is one of the main host cities for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, with BC Place hosting eight matches and the championship final during the month-long tournament.
More importantly, strong passenger traffic growth will continue as a result of a number of new major routes that will be introduced this year. Qantas added direct flights between Vancouver and Sydney this month and direct Air France flights between Vancouver and Paris will begin in March 2015.
Using a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, Air France will operate three times per week from March 29 to May 3, five times per week from May 4 to September 13, and three times a week from September 14 to October 24.
Over the summer, Air Canada plans to add a non-stop route between YVR and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. The Rouge service will use a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and operate five times a week.
YVR’s recent growth spurt could potentially accelerate the timelines for the construction of Phase II of the International Terminal’s West Chevron wing, a project that will add six wide body gates, and the multi-billion dollar North East Terminal as outlined in the approved 2027 master plan.
The North East Terminal will be built east of the existing Transborder Terminal and includes up to 25 new aircraft gates (for a total of 87 gates), a new customs hall and a second Canada Line station for the terminal building.
These terminal expansion projects are to be followed by the construction of a fourth runway at Sea Island to boost the airport’s capacity for aircraft movements.
Feature Image: YVR Airport via Shutterstock