The Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) is flying high these days.
The non-profit organization that operates Winnipeg Richardson International Airport has reported an 8.8 per cent increase in passenger volumes for the second quarter of this year, marking 14 consecutive months of positive passenger growth.
It said a total of 1,041,492 passengers flew in and out of the Winnipeg terminal in the second quarter, which was 84,174 more than in the same period last year.
Consolidated revenue and earnings before interest, depreciation and taxes for the second quarter also were up 8.6 per cent from a year earlier. Revenues climbed to $30.4 million from $28.0 million, while earnings rose to $15.2 million from $14.0 million.
On Monday, Statistics Canada also released data that show passenger volumes at the Winnipeg airport grew at a faster rate last year than at a number of other major airports in Canada. It also said passenger volumes here were up 6.0 per cent from 2015, climbing to just over 3.8 million from just under 3.6 million.
The only other major airports to see stronger year-over-year growth were Vancouver, at 8.4 per cent, Toronto (8.0 per cent) and Montreal (6.3 per cent).
WAA president and CEO Barry Rempel said the WAA’s own data show even higher traffic volumes for last year — just over four million passengers — and higher year-over-year growth of 6.3 per cent.
He also said Winnipeg is on track to match or even better last year’s growth in 2017, with passenger numbers running 7.12 per cent ahead of last year’s pace after the first six months of the year.
"So it’s a very, very, good-news story."
Rempel said a number of factors are helping to fuel passenger growth. He noted WestJet and Air Canada are both using larger planes on some of their flights in and out of the city. "Instead of 90 seats, there are 130 seats — that kind of thing."
Westjet also has been adding more flights, he said, including direct service to cities such as Hamilton and Abbotsford, B.C.
What’s even more encouraging is passenger volumes are growing at an even faster clip than the number of seats.
"That’s a good sign in a market. That’s a healthy market."
One of the things helping to boost traffic volumes in the second half of this year is the resumption of direct flights this summer to London, England, which are being well received, Rempel said.
"Winnipeg is also welcoming thousands of visitors arriving in our city for the 2017 Canada Summer Games," the WAA noted, "making this summer one of the busiest on record for Winnipeg Richardson International Airport."
Tyler McAfee, the WAA’s director of corporate communications and public affairs, said 2,000 athletes and coaches arrived last Thursday for the first week of the games and another 2,000 will be arriving this Thursday for the second half.
In addition to the participants, there are people flying in to watch the Games, although exactly how many is not yet known, Rempel said. "We’ll know that at the end of next month."
The Statistics Canada data showed domestic travellers were the driving force behind last year’s passenger growth at the Winnipeg airport.
Not only did they account for the bulk of passengers, at 3.2 million, but the domestic-traveller category had the largest year-over-year increase in numbers, at 7.8 per cent.
By comparison, the number of passengers flying between Winnipeg and the United States was down by 3.5 per cent to 421,068, while the number of travellers to or from other international destinations grew by a modest 0.5 per cent to 180,584.