The Vancouver International Airport's (YVR) passenger volume remains below pre-pandemic levels, although not as much as earlier this year, according to new data from the Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA).
The VAA expects 410,010 passengers to either board planes or get off them at the airport in the week up to March 5. That is down nearly 10.4 per cent from the 457,493 passengers who did this in the same week in 2019, which was the last year before COVID-19 emerged.
These expectations do not factor in the approximately 50 snow-related flight cancellations that have been announced so far.
About a month ago, the airport's weekly passenger volume was down more than 13.4 per cent, compared with the same week in 2019. This shows that passenger counts are slowly getting back to where they were before the COVID-19 virus disrupted global travel.
The first known COVID-19 infection in B.C. was announced on Jan. 28, 2020, when a man returned from Asia with the illness. The first serious COVID-19 hospitalization in B.C. would not be announced until March 4, 2020.
Exactly three years ago this week, there were only five known cases of COVID-19 in B.C, with one of those people confirmed as having recovered.
The result of those cases, and media attention, was likely enough for some people in February 2020 to cancel trips. The airport this week in 2020 saw 438,047 travellers either board or disembark planes. This week's passenger count is only down 6.4 per cent from that total.
To show how much travel has rebounded in the past year, there were 245,979 passengers who either boarded or disembarked planes at YVR this week one year ago, according to VAA statistics. That means that travel now is up 66.7 per cent, compared to the same week in 2022 – when COVID-19 travel restrictions were in place, the province recorded 2,600 new COVID-19 infections and press conferences with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix happened each weekday.
For much of the past year domestic travellers have outnumbered international counterparts.
Domestic travellers are now expected to be about 48.5 per cent of those who make their way through the airport this week, while U.S. citizens are expected to be 25.6 per cent of the passengers. About 25.9 per cent of the travellers are expected to be international visitors.
Mainland China is one of B.C.'s biggest sources of international visitors, and its airlines are only flying about three flights per week to Vancouver, down from 53 flights per week in 2020.