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YVR passenger volume stays at 86 per cent of pre-pandemic level

Traffic is up 81.9 per cent, compared with last year
Vancouver International Airport is significantly busier than it was one year ago | Chung Chow

Passenger traffic at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) continues to be at about 86 per cent of what it was in mid-November 2019, thanks particularly to strong domestic travel. Passenger counts were also in this range last month.

YVR's passenger levels have been on par with other global airports. London's Heathrow Airport, for example, in October was at 84 per cent of its 2019 year-over-year passenger count for the month.

Travel has been rebounding at YVR on a year-over-year basis. Compared to last year in mid-November, passenger traffic at the airport this week is expected to be up 81.9 per cent.

YVR data show an expectation that 360,723 people will board or disembark planes at the airport in the week between Nov. 14 and Nov. 20, or nearly 51,531 passengers per day. That is up from 222, 845 passengers in the same week one year ago (31,835 per day), and down from 420,201 passengers (60,028 per day) in the same week in 2019.

Domestic travel has been leading the airport's passenger-count rebound, and domestic travellers are expected to comprise 52.5 per cent of YVR's expected passengers in the coming week. In the full month of November in 2019, domestic travellers comprised slightly less than 49.6 per cent of all YVR travellers.

Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Tamara Vrooman said at a recent Greater Vancouver Board of Trade speech that travel from Americans has started to return but travel from those in Europe and Asia remains well below 2019 levels.

Visits from Chinese travellers to Canada via Vancouver remain down by about 90 per cent, compared with 2019. China last week said it planned to reduce the amount of time travelers entering the country must spend in quarantine, to five days from seven, indicating that travel in and out of that country is about to get easier. The country also plans to end a system that punishes international airlines that bring in COVID-19 cases.

November is the slowest month at the airport for daily passenger volume. On a monthly basis, only February provides fewer travellers. In 2019, there were an average of 62,606 passengers per day in November. Last year, that average fell to 31,520.

Travel regulations between the U.S. and Canada in November 2021 started to resemble those before the pandemic. The U.S. reopened its land border with Canada to non-essential travel on Nov. 8, 2021, reciprocating what Canada did several months earlier. Air travel was allowed between the two countries, with various restrictions, throughout the pandemic. 

Canada in June ended its mandate that all travellers on domestic airlines be vaccinated. On Oct. 1, the government dropped all COVID-19 restrictions for travel, including that all visitors show proof of vaccination, use the ArriveCan app and undergo pre- or on-arrival testing.

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