Passengers through the Victoria International Airport reached nearly two million in 2017, marking the airport’s fourth consecutive year of growth.
The Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) released its December passenger statistics this week, creating a picture for the entire year. There were 1.62 million domestic passengers through the gates in North Saanich, another 280,000 transborder passengers and 28,600 international passengers. That put 2017’s numbers at 1.934 million.
“Over the last five years, we’ve seen growth of around 400,000 passengers,” says Geoff Dickson, President and CEO of the VAA. “And we’ve had four consecutive years of record passenger numbers.”
Last year’s 1.934 million passengers is the most recorded in a single year over the last five years and a 4.2 per cent increase over the previous year. Passenger numbers in 2016 were 1.856 million — or 8.5 per cent more than the year before that, the largest percentage jump in the same time period.
There was a slight drop in transborder passengers at the airport in December — 280,069, compared with 282,742 in the same month the year before. However, increases in domestic and international passengers last month made up for that. International passengers through the airport alone jumped 40 per cent in December (5,198, compared with 3,701 in the same month in 2016). In all of 2017, only the month of October recorded an overall decline in numbers — but that was 0.3 per cent.
Dickson said growth looks to be on the horizon again for 2018. He said airlines operating at the airport are adding new services this year — flights to Whitehorse beginning in May and direct flights to Montreal starting in June.
“Victoria is coming to be embraced as a tourist destination,” he said, adding strong local and U.S. economies are driving both visitor and business passenger traffic into YYJ.
This growth has prompted changes in recent years at the airport. Dickson said they are trying to stay ahead of the curve, by adding additional parking space, planning for terminal building expansion, road improvements and apron expansion to allow more aircraft overnight parking.
The impact of all the growth at the Victoria International Airport is part of an economic impact report that Dickson said is due out Wednesday morning (Jan. 17). The last one, he continued, was completed in 2005 and showed that the airport contributed around $445 million to the economy of Greater Victoria.