The official count: Over 19 million passengers recorded at Vancouver International Airport in 2022

Feb 23 2023, 2:44 am

Newly released aviation statistics show Vancouver International Airport (YVR) saw a significantly higher passenger count in 2022 than forecasted.

YVR recorded a total of 19.013 million passengers in 2022 — higher than the over 17 million passengers projected as recently as late October 2022.

This includes 10.6 million domestic passengers, and 8.42 million international passengers.

With this total count, YVR’s 2022 passenger volumes have returned to levels that were last seen a decade ago, when the airport grew from 17.97 million passengers in 2013 to 19.36 million passengers in 2014.

Global aviation demand has recovered at a pace far more quickly than originally expected, but it has led to an overall decline in the passenger experience for airports and airlines around the world — not just at YVR. A labour shortage, due to the inability to quickly recover the workforce shed from early pandemic layoffs, is still largely to blame.

The international traffic figures for 2022 entail 4.37 million passengers from US transborder, 1.86 million passengers from Asia Pacific, 1.41 million passengers from Europe, and 775,000 miscellaneous.

Compared to pre-pandemic 2019, domestic traffic in 2022 was 84% of normal, US transborder was at 68%, Asia Pacific was at 41%, and Europe was at 80%.

Despite the unprecedented winter weather disruptions in December 2022 that forced YVR to put in place arrivals bans in the busy period leading up to Christmas, the airport still ended the month with a strong figure of 1.75 million passengers — comparable to the 2.155 million passengers recorded in December 2019.

International sub-markets also saw the rebound gap narrow later in 2022 compared to earlier in the year, especially for the Asia Pacific, which reached 69% of pre-pandemic volumes in December 2022, while Europe reached 73% and US transborder reached 82% for the same month.

In October 2022, it was also forecasted YVR would see 22 million passengers in 2023. It remains to be seen how continued cost inflation and a potential economic downturn could impact the actual volumes experienced.

Additional traffic can be expected from airlines restoring more of their pre-pandemic routes and service levels this year, while also adding new routes, especially from the activities of Air Canada and WestJet. As well, 2023 is the first full year of global travel largely without pandemic-related restrictions, and more demand can particularly be expected from the Asian Pacific.

Destination Vancouver is currently projecting over 10 million overnight visitors to Metro Vancouver in 2023 — comparable to the all-time historic record of 11 million in 2019. The forecast for the strongest cruise ship season on record — 300 ship calls at Canada Place with at least one million cruise ship passengers — is one of the driving factors for this year’s overnight visitation projections.

YVR hit an all-time historic record of 26.4 million passengers in 2019, before plummeting to over seven million annually in 2020 and 2021.

As for recorded aircraft movements, YVR saw 230,162 runway movements, including 136,886 jets, in 2022 — still shy of the 289,533 runway movements in 2019. These figures account for both passenger and cargo aircraft, which has fully recovered to the pre-pandemic tonnes.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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