London, Ontario in early lead for title of fastest growing airport in 2019

An Air Canada Jazz de Havilland Q400 waits at London International Airport in January. (photo:

In a year when Canada’s major airlines expect to add very little domestic capacity, London International Airport stands out.

Long caught in the shadow of Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport a mere two-hour drive away, and lagging behind the growth at nearby Hamilton International Airport, London is coming into its own in 2019, with a 75% increase in available seats to destinations within Canada this summer.

Westjet joined the rush Tuesday, announcing a new non-stop summer service to Montreal starting June 24, Quebec’s national holiday.

“We continue to see robust use of our service between Montreal and Toronto and are aware that many of these guests travel to and from London,” said Brian Znotins, WestJet Vice-President Network Planning and Alliances, in a news release.

“We are certain WestJet guests from Montreal and London will enjoy more convenient access to these popular leisure and business markets during the busy summer travel season.”

Westjet’s ultra low-cost subsidiary, Swoop, is leading the charge in London, launching new services to Abbotsford, Edmonton and Halifax for the summer. Air Canada is also adding service to London from Calgary aboard its Rouge leisure aircraft.

(Update May 24, 2019: Air Canada has suspended Calgary service as a consequence of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.)

DestinationAirlineWeekly seats
CalgaryAir Canada952

It all adds up to an additional 5,404 seats departing London each week to destinations within Canada.

“We have made a number of exciting announcements in the past month” says Lauren Stafford, Manager of Business Development and Marketing. “We hope to continue expanding our services and offering passengers an easier, more comfortable airport experience.”

Both Air Canada and Westjet expect only small capacity growth on flights within Canada in 2019, concentrating instead on expanding services at their hubs and on their premium overseas services. Instead, major moves within Canada are being left to the ultra low-cost airlines, Swoop and Edmonton-based Flair Airlines, which has yet to release it summer schedule.

Airports large and small set passenger records in 2018, and the national airlines flew more passengers than ever before, though profits sagged substantially for the year. Air Canada and Westjet plan to focus on cutting costs to increase their profitability.

Airport2018 passengers2019 passengers
Abbotsford, B.C.842,212*1,008,176*
Charlottetown, P.E.I.370,730*383,183*
Fredericton, N.B.423,234*427,085*
Kamloops, B.C.351,631361,586*
Kelowna, B.C.2,080,372*2,032,144
Moncton, N.B.681,473*674,406
Nanaimo, B.C.435,394
Prince George, B.C.506,486
Quebec City1,774,841*
Saskatoon1,518,980*1,490,000 (est.)
Thunder Bay869,404*
Winnipeg4,500,000* (estimate)4,500,000 (est.)
* – record (sources: airport reports)