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YVR traffic remains far below pre-pandemic levels

Airport expects 18 per cent fewer travellers this week than same week in 2019
A passenger walks down a corridor at Vancouver International Airport

Despite no COVID-19 travel restrictions, and much of society again living much like they did in the pre-pandemic era, passenger traffic at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) continues to lag what it was in 2019 - by 18.1 per cent.

Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) data show that airport overseers expect an average of 56,432 passengers each day in the week up to April 30, for a total of 395,019 people. That compares with an average of 68,930 passengers each day in the same week in 2019, for a total of 482,509 people. 

BIV in late January looked into passenger traffic at YVR and found that volume was down by about 13.4 per cent from the same week in 2019.  In a typical week in November, passenger traffic at the airport was down by about 14 per cent, compared with 2019. 

Globally, air traffic has also remained below levels seen in 2019, which was the last year before the pandemic descended. 

Preliminary data show global passenger traffic reached close to 7 billion in 2022, which was an increase of 53.5 per cent from 2021, but 26.2 per cent below 2019, according to the Airports Council International.

YVR in 2022 saw 19,013,416 passengers, which was down by 7,366,454, or more than 27.9 per cent from its record 26,379,870 passengers in 2019.

The busiest days this week at YVR are expected to be Friday (57,592 passengers) and Sunday (58,020 passengers.) 

The VAA expects that of passengers at the airport this week, 195,147 (49.4 per cent) will arrive, while 199,872 (50.6 per cent) will depart. 

Domestic travel returned much faster than did international travel when governments started to lift pandemic-era travel restrictions, and the dominance of domestic travel continues. 

The VAA expects that more than half of all travellers at YVR this week - 201,971, or 51.1 per cent - will fly on domestic flights, whereas 94,910 (24 per cent) will be on flights to or from the U.S. The remaining 98,138 passengers (24.8 per cent) are to be on international flights to countries other than the U.S., according to the VAA. 

The airport is busiest in the hours leading up to 8 a.m., as those are peak hours for domestic, U.S.-related and international flights. Domestic, international and U.S.-related travel is also at a peak between 11 a.m. and noon, according to the VAA. Another window that is busy specifically for international flights is 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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