General aviation

The Sunday reader

A weekly roundup of Canadian aviation news

Calgary International Airport reported record traffic in 2018.

It seems Canadians can’t get enough of flying.

In case there wasn’t already enough evidence, airports continued to report that it was a banner year for aviation in Canada.

Calgary, Montreal and Halifax were the latest airports this week to report record traffic in 2018. And the growth is coming in all sectors – across Canada, to the United States, and overseas. Scroll down to see airport passenger numbers across Canada.

Ultra low-cost carriers claim some of the credit for the increased traffic by lowering airfares and enticing more people to fly.

On Friday Swoop celebrated the sale of its first ticket one year ago – on a flight between Hamilton and Abbotsford, British Columbia. Still, they fly limited routes, and millions of Canadians are wondering when they might be included in ULCC plans.

All that growth comes with a dark side.

The Transportation Safety Board issued its report on runway incursions at Toronto Pearson International Airport. As Canada’s busiest airport, it’s logical that Pearson have the greatest number of incursions. But the airport and airlines aren’t helping themselves.

The TSB concentrated on a particular set of parallel runways at the south end of YYZ, 06R/24L and 06L/24R, and found 27 incursions over a five year period. Incursions happen when a plane or vehicle are on a runway when they shouldn’t be. In the worst cases, planes collide, and people die.

The TSB found that procedures required pilots to conduct arrival checklists as they approached the adjacent runway, depriving them of vital visual cues, communications weren’t clear, and the runway layout contributed to the confusion.

It released the following video to show what pilots see out the front as they land on runway 24L at Pearson and have to cross 24R to get to the terminal. Notice in particular how the adjacent runway appears after a sharp right turn.

Source: Transportation Safety Board

While the TSB recommended changes to procedures and communications to make things clearer, its most expensive idea would see the Greater Toronto Airport Authority alter taxiways to make the setup safer. Intriguingly, in its response to the TSB report, the GTAA did not commit to making any changes.

This week, we’ll start to get a picture of the aviation industry’s financial health. Westjet, which this summer reported its first quarterly loss in 13 years, will report its 2018 results on Tuesday. Air Canada will follow the next week. It will be interesting to watch the two as they compete for premium customers on overseas routes.

Final thought

Enjoy the Super Bowl, featuring the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. Los Angeles World Airport handled more than 87.5 million passengers in 2018 at a facility that covers 3,500 acres. Boston-Logan International 38.4 million passengers in 2017 at a facility that covers 1,700 acres. When you do the math, the airports handled roughly the same number of passengers per acre! Hope they’re as closely matched on the field.

Have a great week.

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)