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Business in Vancouver

August was busiest-ever month at Vancouver International Airport

Airport set to get busier as airlines add routes, increase frequency and use bigger planes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 11:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 11:16am

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) welcomed a record of almost 2.32 million travellers in August, making the month the busiest-ever month at the 85-year-old airport, the Vancouver Airport Authority confirmed to Business in Vancouver.

That count includes travellers who either boarded or disembarked planes during August, which is regularly the busiest month of the year for the 85-year-old airport.

The airport has been on a record-breaking streak, given that its second-busiest-ever month was in July, when more than 2.24 million passengers passed through the airport.

Traffic last month was up 9.1 per cent compared with August 2015.

So far this year, the airport has welcomed approximately 15 million passengers, up from about 13.86 million passengers last year.

Much of the increase in traffic came from the Asia Pacific region, where 15.7 per cent more travellers passed through YVR in August than in the same month in 2015.

Airport officials expect the airport to crack the 21-million-passenger threshold this year. Last year, YVR had its busiest-ever year with 20,315,978 passengers. That was the first time that the airport had cracked the 20-million-passenger threshold.

Future growth is expected given that many airlines are either planning new routes, increased flight frequency or to fly larger planes.

Air Canada, for example, is readying to launch the first-ever scheduled non-stop flight between Vancouver and the Indian subcontinent. Its direct flights to Delhi will launch October 20, in time for Diwali celebrations. Earlier this month, Air Canada added daily non-stop service between Vancouver and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

It added a handful of other new routes earlier this year.

Beijing Capital Airlines plans on December 30 to launch non-stop flights between Vancouver and Qingdao with the flights continuing on to Hangzhou.

When those flights launch, Vancouver will be the only airport in the Americas or Europe to have non-stop flights to mainland China from six different airlines.

The airport welcomed its fifth mainland-China based airline, Xiamen Airlines, in July.

Other than new routes, however, there are also airlines increasing frequency and plane size.

Cathay Pacific intends to increase its number of non-stop Vancouver to Hong Kong flights to 17, up from its current twice-daily schedule, starting March 28.

Cathay had warned that, in November, it and its subsidiary Dragonair will chop many of the 450 daily flights that those airlines currently operate out of Hong Kong International Airport while the airport upgrades its air traffic control system.

So far, however, the airline has only cancelled a single flight to Vancouver during the month.

Other increases in frequency include Aeromexico, which plans to increase its number of non-stop flights between Vancouver and Mexico City to 11 per week, up from seven currently. That change will happen on December 1, which is also the day when the Canadian government intends to lift visa restrictions on Mexican citizens.

Philippine Airlines normally reduces the flight frequency of its non-stop Vancouver to Manilla flights to seven in the summer and then increases that to 10 flights per week during the winter. In 2017, however, it plans to fly 10 flights per week year-round.

Instead of adding more frequent flights, China Southern intends to operate a 309-seat Boeing 777 year-round on its daily flights between Vancouver and Guangzhou instead of operating a 228-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The change will add a 35 per cent increase in its capacity during the winter.