Updated figures from the Victoria Airport Authority show the number of passengers travelling through Victoria International Airport (YYJ) down 6.1 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018. (Black Press Media File)

Passenger count at Victoria International Airport down 6.1 per cent in 2019

Decline in 2019 worse than previous estimates

Updated figures from the Victoria Airport Authority show the number of passengers travelling through Victoria International Airport (YYJ) down 6.1 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018.

The figures show 1.924 million passengers used the airport in 2019, as opposed to 2.048 million in 2018.

The drop of 6.1 per cent is worse than the airport’s forecast of 5.3 per cent, as found in a report before Sidney council Monday.

RELATED: Victoria International Airport named one of the best employers in B.C.

The report from the non-profit authority broadly recaps recent developments, including the cessation of two routes to the United States. The report noted that United Airlines suspended Victoria – San Francisco flights after 11 years of service. “United has indicated interest in a potential Victoria – Denver service in 2021,” it reads.

Delta Air Lines also suspended its service to Seattle, which it had introduced in 2016, because of what the report described as “as poor sector profitability and overall network contribution.”

But the report also points to positive developments. In June 2019, Air Canada doubled non-stop frequency on the Victoria – Montreal route increasing to six flights per week,” it reads. “This was a major increase and a precursor to daily service and potential year-round flights.”

Sunwing also added to their Los Cabos and Huatulco service with new new flights to Ixtapa and Mazatlan. “With West Jet and Air Transit securing Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, YYJ’s total Mexico program now has six markets,” it reads.

The report also notes that the airport is one of only two debt-free airports in Canada.

RELATED: Snow leaves more than 65 people sleeping at Victoria International Airport

Looking at key events of 2019, the report notes that last year’s snow event YYJ was the second biggest snow event in the history of the airport. Snow fall of 68 cm over seven days cancelled 281 flights, impacting 9,000 passengers.

Airport Fire Services also responded to 221 incidents in 2019, including medical incidents, wildlife control, aircraft emergencies and fire incidents.

Since the federal government transferred the airport to the non-profit authority in 1997, it has invested more than $217 million in capital improvements, including $100 million over the past five years.

Completed projects include the first phase of the lower passenger departure lounge expansion worth a total of $19.4 million, a 1,900 square-metre addition that features innovative structural wood monoliths and skylights, exterior landscaping on the apron to create a sense of place as well. A new art installation titled Time Catcher by local artist Charles Campbell will be installed spring 2020.

Victoria is Canada’s 11th largest airport and recently received recognition as one of the best employers in B.C.

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