Vancouver International Airport saw nearly 12 million passengers in the first half of 2023

Aug 28 2023, 10:13 pm

Over the first half of 2023, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has already seen 53% more air passengers than the same period in 2022, providing signs of a promising year for the airport’s continued rebound from the pandemic.

Newly released statistics by the Vancouver Airport Authority show YVR saw 11.7 million passengers over the first six months of 2023, including 2.23 million passengers in June 2023.

In contrast, over the same period in 2022, the airport recorded 7.65 million passengers, with 1.88 million from June 2022.

YVR appears to be on target to meet or exceed its forecast of 22 million passengers for all of 2023, especially with this summer’s exceptional July and August months, when the airport has seen consecutive periods of nearly or over 80,000 passengers per day — a pre-pandemic average for the summer peak period.

Over the coming Labour Day weekend from September 1 to 4, YVR is projected to see over 316,000 passengers, representing an increase of over 60,000 passengers over the same holiday long weekend and back-to-school/work period in 2022.

But compared to pre-pandemic 2019, YVR is still shy by about one million passengers, with 12.68 million passengers recorded between January 2019 and June 2019.

YVR recorded an all-time annual record of 26.4 million passengers in 2019 and it saw a relatively strong rebound to slightly over 19 million passengers in 2022.

This year to date, YVR’s passenger volumes resemble those of 2017 over the same period.

YVR’s domestic passenger volumes have now fully recovered to pre-pandemic 2019 volumes, but its international market continues to lag.

Depending on the month, roughly 90% to 95% of the pre-pandemic monthly volumes in 2023 to date were seen for the US international transborder market. The European has seen a comparably strong recovery for most months, but the Asia-Pacific market is lagging in particular.

For example, the Asia-Pacific market saw about 286,000 passengers in June 2023, with similar levels for the months prior to this year to date. In pre-pandemic 2019, YVR recorded 401,000 passengers for the month of June 2023. Much of the difference in the Asia-Pacific comes from the slow rebound in the re-establishment of YVR’s strong and frequent air links with Mainland China destinations, with only a small fraction of the pre-pandemic capacity returned so far.

Capacity also continues to be down for YVR’s tether to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific operated at least 14 round-trip flights per week or two to three times per day, and it currently flies seven to eight round-trip flights per week or one to two times per day. Cathay Pacific has indicated its frequencies between Hong Kong and Vancouver could further increase in 2024 when more of its fleet has been reinstated.

Earlier this month, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority shared that halfway into the 2023 cruise ship season, over the first four months, it already saw over 740,000 cruise passengers pass through the Canada Place cruise ship terminal in downtown Vancouver. This exceeds the first four months of the 2022 season between April and July by 70% or over 300,000 when about 438,000 cruise ship passengers were recorded over the same period.

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