Vancouver International Airport has been seeing passenger traffic gradually rise to nearly what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic descended in March 2020.
Including today, during the four-day long weekend, the airport is expecting 318,361 passengers to either board or disembark airplanes. That is down only about three per cent, compared with the same four-day long weekend in 2019, when there were 328,363 passengers, according to Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) statistics.
On Saturday, the number of passengers set to board or disembark planes at the airport is even expected to be above what it was in 2019: 79,404 passengers compared with 79,122 passengers on that same Saturday of the long weekend four years ago.
Compared with last year, when there were 264,086 passengers boarding or disembarking planes, the airport's B.C. Day long weekend traffic has soared more than 20.5 per cent.
The VAA last month projected that nearly seven million passengers would travel through the airport in July, August and September.
If the count turns out to be exactly seven million, that would be nearly 14 per cent, or 856,978 more people than in those same three months last year, when 6,143,022 passengers passed through YVR. That increased traffic, combined with issues such as staffing problems at NAV Canada, which is grappling with shortage of air-traffic controllers, could prompt delays.
Indeed, the VAA is urging passengers this weekend to arrive well in advance of their scheduled departure times. Normal advice is to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international departures. Given that traffic this weekend is supposed to be closer to pre-pandemic levels than recent weekends, travellers might plan to be at the airport even earlier to avoid stress.