Vancouver International Airport passenger numbers hit record 20 million in 2015

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Image: YVR Airport / Shutterstock

The 20 millionth passenger will pass through the gates of Vancouver International Airport (YVR) early this afternoon, marking a new historic record for the airport just before the peak of the holiday travel rush. For this month alone, YVR expects it will hit 1.66 million passengers.

Since 2013, the airport has been in a growth phase, with numbers having increased from 17.97 million in 2013 and 19.4 million in 2014. Passenger numbers began steadily growing again in 2012 when the air travel industry rebounded from the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

2015 has also been a significant year for tourism in Vancouver given its role as the host of major events and conventions, including several large-scale conferences and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. More Americans are spending their dollars north of the border to take advantage of the historically low Canadian loonie.

Image: FIFA

SEE ALSO: Record breaking year for Vancouver tourism with 9.4 million visitors

However, much of the growth can also be attributed from the addition of new major flight services and the expansion of existing routes.

This includes Air Canada’s announcement this week that it will increase its Vancouver to Brisbane direct, non-stop service from three times weekly to a daily service. The new direct route to Australia’s third largest city will not begin to fly until June 2016, but strong interest since the initial route announcement prompted the decision to establish a more frequent link between the two cities. This adds to the airline’s other recently revealed plans to launch frequent services to Chicago, San Diego, San Jose, and Dublin in Ireland.

The federal government’s recent bilateral agreements on air travel with Australia and China have allowed airlines serving the countries to expand their capacity to Canada. Much more growth is expected in 2016 from these two markets.

Officials at YVR will also be implementing new rates and charges for airlines that use the airport, effective on January 1. The new program, dubbed ConnectYVR, is designed to spur even more growth: Airlines will be offered financial incentives through a new reduced standard rate structure for landing and terminal fees.

“By incenting airlines to grow and improving our terminal facilities and processes to move passengers and planes quickly, we can continue to attract new airlines to YVR and position ourselves as a major international hub in the increasingly competitive aviation industry,” Craig Richmond, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, said in a statement.

With the introduction of a number of new major flight services over the coming year, another passenger record far exceeding 20 million is expected to be broken in 2016. By 2020, YVR anticipates it will reach 25 million passengers, which will necessitate the construction of a significant passenger terminal building expansion.

YVR is Canada’s second busiest airport, coming just behind Toronto’s Pearson International Airport which has double the passenger traffic numbers. Calgary International Airport and Montreal’s Pierre Eliott Trudeau International Airport are third and fourth, respectively.

Vancouver International Airport Traffic History

  • 1992
    • Passengers: 9,935,285
    • Cargo (tonnes): 144,404
    • Aircraft Movements: 290,297
  • 1993
    • Passengers: 10,235,015
    • Cargo (tonnes): 151,467
    • Aircraft Movements: 289,371
  • 1994
    • Passengers: 10,830,796
    • Cargo (tonnes): 182,372
    • Aircraft Movements: 301,416
  • 1995
    • Passengers: 12,006,973
    • Cargo (tonnes): 214,472
    • Aircraft Movements: 311,829
  • 1996
    • Passengers: 14,037,174
    • Cargo (tonnes): 249,201
    • Aircraft Movements: 330,364
  • 1997
    • Passengers: 14,818,564
    • Cargo (tonnes): 260,773
    • Aircraft Movements: 343,068
  • 1998
    • Passengers: 15,508,109
    • Cargo (tonnes): 249,297
    • Aircraft Movements: 369,728
  • 1999
    • Passengers: 15,806,499
    • Cargo (tonnes): 269,129
    • Aircraft Movements: 367,249
  • 2000
    • Passengers: 16,032,531
    • Cargo (tonnes): 251,771
    • Aircraft Movements: 337,397
  • 2001
    • Passengers: 15,476,762
    • Cargo (tonnes): 228,694
    • Aircraft Movements: 312,078
  • 2002
    • Passengers: 14,877,536
    • Cargo (tonnes): 235,039
    • Aircraft Movements: 296,626
  • 2003
    • Passengers: 14,321,504
    • Cargo (tonnes): 214,882
    • Aircraft Movements: 290,382
  • 2004
    • Passengers: 15,725,694
    • Cargo (tonnes): 229,913
    • Aircraft Movements: 314,986
  • 2005
    • Passengers: 16,418,993
    • Cargo (tonnes): 223,678
    • Aircraft Movements: 322,949
  • 2006
    • Passengers: 16,922,226
    • Cargo (tonnes): 222,730
    • Aircraft Movements: 322,396
  • 2007
    • Passengers: 17,495,049
    • Cargo (tonnes): 226,233
    • Aircraft Movements: 328,008
  • 2008
    • Passengers: 17,852,459
    • Cargo (tonnes): 211,693
    • Aircraft Movements: 339,022
  • 2009
    • Passengers: 16,179,312
    • Cargo (tonnes): 197,490
    • Aircraft Movements: 314,437
  • 2010
    • Passengers: 16,778,774
    • Cargo (tonnes): 226,840
    • Aircraft Movements: 294,571
  • 2011
    • Passengers: 17,032,780
    • Cargo (tonnes): 223,878
    • Aircraft Movements: 296,942
  • 2012
    • Passengers: 17,596,901
    • Cargo (tonnes): 227,929
    • Aircraft Movements: 296,394
  • 2013
    • Passengers: 17,971,883
    • Cargo (tonnes): 228,263
    • Aircraft Movements: 300,454
  • 2014
    • Passengers: 19,358,203
    • Cargo (tonnes): 256,934
    • Aircraft Movements: 310,139

New and improved major YVR routes 2015/2016

  • March 15, 2015: Manila, Philippines and New York City, U.S.A. – Philippine Airlines adds four weekly flights to its route from Manila to NYC, with a stop in Vancouver.
  • March 29, 2015: Paris, France – Air France begins three times weekly non-stop flight service, with five times weekly schedules during the summer months.
  • May 1, 2015: Osaka, Japan – Air Canada Rouge begins five times weekly service to Kansai International Airport.
  • June 26, 2015: Kungming, China – China Eastern Airlines begins three times weekly flight service via Shanghai.
  • December 9, 2015: Mexico City, Mexico – Aeromexico to begin daily non-stop flight service.
  • January 1, 2016: Orlando International Airport – WestJet to begin twice weekly non-stop flight service.
  • May 1, 2016: London Heathrow Airport – British Airways to use an AirBus A380 superjumbo jet for its existing daily non-stop London Heathrow Airport service. The A380 will only be used during the summer months.
  • May 4, 2016: Orlando-Sanford International Airport – National Airlines to begin two times weekly flight service.
  • May 6, 2016: London Gatwick Airport – WestJet to begin six times weekly non-stop flight service.
  • May 9, 2016: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport – Air Canada to begin twice daily, non-stop service to San Jose.
  • June 4, 2016: Chicago O’Hare International Airport – Air Canada to begin daily, non-stop service.
  • June 6, 2016: San Diego International Airport – Air Canada to begin daily, non-stop service.
  • June 10, 2016: Dublin Airport – Air Canada to begin seasonal non-stop flight service.
  • June 17, 2016: Brisbane, Australia – Air Canada to begin daily non-stop flight service.

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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