July 18, 2022

Weekly EconMinute—Air traffic

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about air traffic.

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The federal government eased many of the remaining travel restrictions earlier this spring. For example, we are no longer required to provide a COVID-19 test or a quarantine plan when entering Canada. Nor do we need proof of vaccination to board planes and trains. Similarly, the government lifted the vaccine requirement for federally-regulated workers—including aviation employees—allowing unvaccinated individuals to return to work. All this means that, recent chaos aside, the rules surrounding air travel at the very least are returning to a more familiar state.

The aviation industry is also seeing things return to normal as the number of people entering Canada by air has recently returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Here’s what the data shows:

  • The number of travellers entering Canada by air plummeted in April 2020, falling to 30,830—a 98% decrease from March 2020.
  • The number of air travellers remained depressed until August 2021, when Canada opened its border to vaccinated US residents. The number of entrants climbed to 620,160—over 5.5x the number of travellers in August 2020.
  • The upward recovery trend was briefly thwarted in January and February 2022 as the emergence of omicron prompted a tightening of travel restrictions.  
  • However, by March 2022, the number of travellers entering Canada reached the highest level since March 2020 at 1,347,975 entrants.
  • Since then, the number of travellers has consistently increased and reached a new post-COVID high of 1,747,990 in June—representing 96% of the number recorded for the same month in 2019.
  • While air traffic has returned more or less to pre-COVID levels, employment has not. Employment in Q4 2021 was 29.2% lower than in Q4 2019—one contributing factor to the chaos and delays at Canada’s major airports.

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