Vancouver International Airport notches all-time high for passengers and cargo

More than 25.9 million passengers and 338,000 tonnes of cargo passed through the airport in 2018

Air Canada planes sit at gates at YVR after some snow fell earlier this week | @YVRairport on Twitter

The Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) has released data to back up its claims that 2018 was the busiest-ever year at its Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

New numbers show that record 25,936,907 passengers flowed through the airport in 2018. That is about 7.3% more than the 24,166,122 passengers who flowed through the airport in 2017.

As for cargo, there was a record 338,000 tonnes of product that was shipped through YVR in 2018 – an 8.1% increase compared with 2017.

Passenger-count growth was spread out, with increases coming in all regions to which there are flights.

Visits from domestic travellers – a metric that includes travel to and from the U.S. as well as Canada – were up 6.1% year over year, while visits from travellers coming or going to other parts of the world increased 8.5%.

The Asia Pacific region was the part of the world that provided the biggest lift in passengers, with a 9.6% increase, to 4,465,253. Europe, however, was not far behind, with a 9.4% increase, to a much smaller 1,754,538 total.

The airport years ago set a goal to reach the 25-million passenger mark by 2020, so it has reached that goal two years ahead of schedule. It is now on track to service more than 29 million passengers in 2020 and 32 million passengers by 2022, according to its projections.

The airport’s passenger growth is fuelled by an increasing number of flights as well as new routes.

Air Canada is the largest airline at YVR, ranked by passengers, and it has been growing steadily.

In 2018, Air Canada introduced flights to 10 new destinations, including Paris and Zurich, and increased service on five existing routes, including making its non-stop service to Delhi year-round.

In a February 13 release, the VAA touted what it calls its “competitive rate structure [that] includes rates lower than any other major airport in Canada and competing US airports” for attracting more flights and new airlines.

Canada Jetlines, for example, decided to change its plans and start to fly out of YVR later this year. The airline had previously told Business in Vancouver that it would fly out of Abbotsford.

To enable future growth, the VAA plans to invest $9.1 billion at YVR as part of an expansion program. Initiatives include 75 major capital-improvement projects scheduled over the next 20 years.