Vancouver International Airport saw just 69,000 passengers in all of April 2020

Jun 13 2020, 1:33 pm

We’ve known the plummet in global air traffic has led to a corresponding nosedive in passenger volumes at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), but just how severe is it?

Newly-released air traffic statistics for April 2020 — the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — shows YVR saw a total of only 68,730 passengers for the entire month. This is an average of about 2,300 per day.

In fact, this total passenger count for the entire month is less than the typical 78,000 passengers per day YVR sees during normalcy.

April’s performance is a staggering year-over-year change of 97.6%, down from 1.09 million passengers for the same month last year.

The pandemic also cut YVR’s passenger numbers by half in March, when passenger volumes fell off over the last two weeks from the emergence of the sudden crisis. There were 1.1 million passengers in March — down from 2.13 million during the same month in 2019.

Here is the full breakdown of YVR’s passenger traffic for April 2020:

  • Domestic:
    • 2019: 990,163
    • 2020: 42,738 (-95.7%)
  • US transborder:
    • 2019: 520,894
    • 2020: 5,933 (-98.9%)
  • Asia Pacific:
    • 2019: 368,411
    • 2020: 16,824 (-95.4%)
  • Europe:
    • 2019: 97,704
    • 2020: 2,182 (-97.8%)
  • Miscellaneous:
    • 2019: 100,671
    • 2020: 1,053 (-99.0%)
  • Month total for April 2020:
    • 2019: 1,087,680
    • 2020: 25,992 (-97.6%)

The traffic changes are also reflected in the statistics for YVR’s aircraft movements, with airlines making sweeping cancellations to flight routes over the latter half of March and throughout April.

There were a total of 5,568 total aircraft arrivals and departures in April, down from 26,153 over the same month last year.

Jet aircraft movements fell by 79% year-over-year, from 12,975 in April 2019 to 2,690 in April 2020. Similar proportional drops were also experienced for turbo-prop aircraft and non-runway aircraft, such as helicopters and float planes from the South Terminal.

In May, YVR said it was forecasting between eight and 15 million passengers per year for the next three years, with the low end of this forecast equivalent to YVR’s pre-1992 levels — before the opening of the modern international terminal — and the high end equivalent to 1998’s volumes. In 2019, the airport saw record traffic volumes of 26.4 million passengers.

Air cargo volumes dropped by half, from 24,111 tonnes in 2020 to 11,391 tonnes in 2019.

YVR’s statistics for May will not be compiled until next month, but there is reason to believe there was a small uptick in travel, based on an assessment by OAG and the reintroduction of some airline capacity and routes.

In 2018, YVR had an annual operational budget of $379 million, with $60.5 million going towards salaries, wages, and benefits. During the same fiscal year, it saw revenues totalling $565.1 million, with $48.1 million from airline landing fees, $95.1 million from airline terminal fees, $143.5 million from concessions, $172.1 million from airport improvement fees, $37.9 million from car parking, and $38.7 million from rentals.

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