1.6 million passengers recorded at Vancouver International Airport in May 2022

Jul 15 2022, 10:21 pm

The latest released statistics on Vancouver International Airport’s (YVR) volumes show a total of 1.611 million passengers went through the airport throughout the month of May 2022.

This is a staggering recovery compared to the highly depressed pandemic volumes of 2020 and 2021.

The figure for May 2022 represents 73% of the pre-pandemic volumes of May 2019, when 2.185 million passengers were recorded.

This is up from just 89,000 passengers in May 2020, and 200,000 passengers in May 2021.

In May 2022, YVR also told Daily Hive Urbanized it had begun to see average daily volumes in excess of 50,000 passengers.

This year to date, monthly total volumes reached 776,045 in January, 810,128 in February, 1,205,731 in March, and 1,377,263 in April.

The total number of passengers over the first five months of 2022 is 5.78 million passengers — up from 1.02 million over the same period in 2021, which ended with 7.09 million passengers for the entire year.

Here is a comparison breakdown of the types of passengers in pre-pandemic May 2019, and over the first five months of 2022:

  • Total Domestic:
    • May 2019: 1,071,267
    • January 2022: 462,723
    • February 2022: 488,348
    • March 2022: 680,174
    • April 2022: 776,205
    • May 2022: 964,371
  • Total International (including US Transborder):
    • May 2019: 1,113,587
    • January 2022: 313,322
    • February 2022: 321,780
    • March 2022: 525,557
    • April 2022: 601,058
    • May 2022: 647,413
  • International — US Transborder:
    • May 2019: 507,733
    • January 2022: 131,707
    • February 2022: 150,857
    • March 2022: 277,581
    • April 2022: 310,852
    • May 2022: 333,697
  • International — Asia Pacific:
    • May 2019: 377,055
    • January 2022: 76,824
    • February 2022: 69,104
    • March 2022: 92,570
    • April 2022: 108,071
    • May 2022: 147,088
  • International — Europe:
    • May 2019: 173,437
    • January 2022: 49,789
    • February 2022: 41,452
    • March 2022: 65,837
    • April 2022: 92,264
    • May 2022: 119,337
  • International — Miscellaneous (scheduled/charter):
    • May 2019: 55,362
    • January 2022: 55,002
    • February 2022: 60,367
    • March 2022: 86,569
    • April 2022: 89,871
    • May 2022: 47,291

Unsurprisingly, domestic passenger volumes at YVR are now very near pre-pandemic 2019 levels, while US Transborder volumes have reached approximately 66% towards normal.

But overall, total international volumes are still weak, hovering at only about 58% of normal, which is to be expected given ongoing health safety restrictions abroad and reduced airline capacity, especially for the key international sub-market of the Asia Pacific — specifically Hong Kong and Mainland China, where strict quarantine rules remain a major deterrent for travel.

There is every reason to believe passenger volumes have surged further into the peak summer travel season in June 2022 and this month to date, especially before and after the Canada Day long weekend.

If YVR is able to repeat at least May 2022’s volume of 1.611 million passengers for each of the remaining seven months of this year, it would end 2022 with a relatively impressive total of about 17.1 million passengers — equivalent to 2011’s total, but well behind the historic record of 26.4 million in 2019.

In 2020, YVR initially estimated they would see between eight million and 15 million passengers annually between 2020 and 2022 due to the pandemic’s impacts, but based on the most recent statistics and global aviation trends, the airport is now likely to exceed the upper ceiling of its original estimate this year.

During the 2019 summer season, YVR saw 2.39 million passengers in June, 2.61 million passengers in July, 2.69 million in August, and 2.3 million in September. YVR’s monthly average in 2019 was over two million passengers. But it saw an annual total of only 7.3 million and 7.1 million passengers in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

However, the exceptionally strong and quick recovery in passenger volumes this year to date — the result of pent-up travel demand, improved consumer confidence, high vaccination rates, and the lifting of health and travel restrictions — poses a significant challenge for airport operators, airport-supporting businesses, airlines, CATSA security screening workers, and border control staff.

A labour shortage at YVR and other airports around the world has resulted in delays, and a deterioration in the travel experience, with staffing levels not keeping up with rapidly growing demand.

“We are sorry to hear about your bad experience at our airport today. We hope that in the coming months the 100+ companies that work within the airport environment will be able to get back to pre-pandemic levels to meet demand. Until then, we thank you for your patience,” reads a tweet by Vancouver Airport Authority last month in response to a passenger’s complaint.

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