The number of passengers through the Victoria International Airport has plummeted since COVID-19 hit. (Black Press Media file photo)

The number of passengers through the Victoria International Airport has plummeted since COVID-19 hit. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria International Airport passengers plummet to a tenth of 2019 counts

Only domestic flights allowed through YYJ in 2021

Traffic through the Victoria International Airport (YYJ) took a nose dive in 2020 and has continued to descend into 2021.

Month over month, the number of passengers processed through the airport in March dropped from 163,795 in 2019, to 81,105 in 2020 to 16,900 in 2021. The lowest numbers were seen in April (4,261) and May 2020 (6,635) when the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to set in. In 2019, the same months saw 159,441 and 169,825 passengers, respectively.

By April 2020, international flights had been banned from YYJ, and by May transborder flights – between Canada and the U.S. – had been stopped as well. People were asked to stop all non-essential travel. In 2019, transborder and international flights made up 13.7 per cent of YYJ passengers’ travel.

So far in 2021, 18,396 passengers were through the airport in January, 13,388 in February and 16,900 in March. These numbers represent between a 79 and 86 per cent drop from 2020. During the same months, eight, six and three flight exposures were reported through Victoria, including YYJ and Harbour Air. In April, a record number of 13 monthly exposures has been reported.

READ ALSO: Indigenous man walks Greater Victoria to honour missing and murdered women and girls

The airport could see some bounce back starting this summer, though. Two discount airlines – Flair and Swoop – are introducing new direct domestic flights between Victoria and Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Toronto.

The latest projections from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, suggest pandemic restrictions could begin to lift by mid-summer. The key, she said, is to have 75 per cent of adults with their first vaccine dose and 20 per cent with their second.

Regardless, 2021 is likely to finish as another record low year for airport traffic.

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READ ALSO: Victoria police still looking for Belinda Cameron who was last seen 16 years ago


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