There was a staggering 17 per cent increase in international passengers traveling through Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in January 2016, compared to the same period last year.
YVR recorded 432,992 international passengers during the first month of the year, an increase of nearly 63,000 passengers from the January 2015 figure of 370,237 passengers.
Much of the growth is coming from the booming Asia Pacific market, which saw a 19.1 per cent growth rate or a total of 282,764 passengers for the month. Impressive increases were also recorded in the Europe (11%) and “Miscellaneous” (15.3%) sectors.
“The double digit growth rate in Europe is attributed mainly to Air France’s extended winter operations,” Carl Jones, Director of Air Service Development for the Vancouver Airport Authority, told Vancity Buzz. “And in the Asia Pacific sector the growth is linked to airlines using larger aircraft or adding more frequencies.”
“This is the highest year-over-year monthly growth rate for the Asia Pacific sector in five years.”
However, growth in transborder passengers – to and from the United States – flatlined during January with just an increase of 0.1 per cent. But Jones says the transborder growth numbers should bounce back beginning this spring when a number of new frequent direct routes to San Diego, Chicago, and San Jose are introduced by Air Canada.
There was an uptick of five per cent in domestic passengers, and this could increase in the months to come with low airfares and the unfavourably low Canadian dollar turning foreign vacations into Canadian staycations. Later in the year, WesetJet will add new seasonal capacity to YVR with its new frequent, direct routes to Hamilton and London in Ontario.
Overall, the airport’s passenger numbers increased by 6.6 per cent for the month, with a total of 1.625 million passengers – up from 1.525 million during the same period in 2015.
Last year, YVR welcomed a historic record of 20.3 million passengers, marking the first time the airport had over 20 million passengers pass through its gates. Passenger numbers for 2015 increased by nearly one million compared to 2014, and extraordinary growth is expected to continue throughout this year. A number of new frequent, direct flights will be introduced to major destinations such as Brisbane, Chicago, Dublin, and London’s Gatwick Airport.
YVR has previously stated its ambitious goal of reaching 25 million passengers by the end of the decade.
“We are anticipating a strong year ahead with a number of announcements for new airlines and new destinations resulting in more jobs and dollars into the B.C. economy,” continued Jones.
In May, British Airways’ daily, direct Vancouver to London route will switch to using an Airbus A380 superjumbo jet aircraft. This route will become Vancouver’s first and only scheduled A380 service.