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YVR passenger volume climbs, remains down 8.7 per cent from 2019

Drop in non-stop flights to China continues to be a drag on passenger volume
A North Cariboo Air plane is parked on the tarmac at Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport's (YVR) passenger volume is growing, but remains below levels seen in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The airport anticipates 445,500 passengers either boarding planes or arriving at the airport in the week ending June 4. That is about 8.7 per cent below the 488,154 passengers who either embarked or disembarked planes at the airport in the same week four years ago. 

The airport has slowly been reducing the gap between its 2023 passenger volume and 2019 passenger volume. In a week in late April, for example, the airport's passenger volume was expected to be 18.1 per cent below what it was in the same week in 2019, with 395,018 passengers passing through the airport. 

Airlines launching new routes has helped draw passengers.

WestJet this month launched four weekly flights between Vancouver and Atlanta, and two weekly flights between Vancouver and Nashville. 

Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah told BIV earlier this year that her airline planned on May 1 to resume flying three times per week to Austin, Texas, and flying once daily to Anchorage. It plans to launch one flight per day between Vancouver Boston on June 17. 

One of the biggest causes for YVR's passenger volume to still be below what it was in 2019 is that there remain far fewer non-stop flights between Vancouver and cities in mainland China. 

Pre-pandemic, eight airlines flew a total of 53 non-stop flights between mainland China and B.C., while the most recent tally is that five airlines are making eight non-stop flights per week on those routes.

Xiamen Air, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Air China each operate one flight per week in and out of Vancouver, according to Vancouver Airport Authority director of air service development, Russell Atkinson. The Air China flights have yet to resume being non-stop between Beijing and Vancouver, as the airline currently flies between Beijing and Vancouver with a stopover in Shenyang. 

Mah told BIV that her airline flies four times per week to Shanghai, China. 

China Southern, China Eastern and Beijing Capital Airlines are the mainland Chinese airlines that have yet to resume routes to Vancouver.

There is some hope that passenger volumes at YVR will continue to increase, with 

Friday and Sunday are expected to be the busiest travel days this week, with 66,876 and 68,334 passengers expected, respectively, according to YVR.

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