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Airport activity, 2016

Released: 2017-07-31

Passengers enplaned and deplaned in Canada

140.2 million


5.0% increase

(annual change)

The number of passengers enplaned and deplaned at Canadian airports reached 140.2 million in 2016, an increase of 5.0% compared to the previous year. It was the seventh consecutive annual increase, following the economic slowdown of 2009.

Increased activity at several of the country's largest airports contributed to the strong growth in passenger traffic, including: Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International (+8.0%); Vancouver International (+8.4%); Montréal/Pierre Elliott Trudeau International (+6.3%); Winnipeg/James Armstrong Richardson International (+6.0%); and Halifax/Robert L. Stanfield International (+5.6%).

Activity at the Fort McMurray airport in Alberta was impacted by a large wildfire in May 2016. In response, all commercial air traffic at the airport was suspended until early June. As a result, passenger traffic at Fort McMurray fell 29% to 0.7 million passengers in 2016, its lowest level since 2011.

In 2016, all three sectors experienced gains: domestic (within Canada) expanded 4.8% (+3.8 million passengers), other international rose 7.9% (+2.2 million) and transborder (between Canada and the United States) increased 2.7% (+0.7 million).

For a third consecutive year, the growth in other international passenger traffic (+7.9%) outpaced that of both the domestic and transborder sectors, as Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International (+9.5%) and Vancouver International (+15.2%) posted strong gains. Together, these airports accounted for 67% of the 29.6 million passengers who enplaned and deplaned other international flights in Canada.

The weight of cargo loaded and unloaded at Canadian airports increased 3.7% in 2016 to just over 1.2 million tonnes. Domestic cargo increased 4.6% to 553 000 tonnes. Other international cargo was up 7.0% to 437 000 tonnes, while transborder tonnages decreased 3.9% to 226 000 tonnes.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Passengers enplaned and deplaned at top 5 Canadian airports
Passengers enplaned and deplaned at top 5 Canadian airports

Chart 2  Chart 2: Air passenger traffic at Fort McMurray, Alberta
Air passenger traffic at Fort McMurray, Alberta

Chart 3  Chart 3: Air passenger traffic by sector
Air passenger traffic by sector

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

In the early 1900s, the country's airports were not much more than pieces of farmland which doubled as airfields. At that time, there was little government interest in either airports or air travel, since the federal government was promoting the national rail system for both mail and passenger traffic. The first Canadian air policy, proclaimed with the passage of the Air Board Act in 1919, stated that the government should not provide resources on the same basis as wharfs and harbour facilities, and that urban landing grounds must be provided by an area's inhabitants. However, in 1927, the government reviewed its policy and, in an effort to improve communications with the British Commonwealth, decided to fund its first civil airport in St. Hubert, Quebec. Canada's airports have come a long way from the farmland airfields of the early days, evolving into busy, bustling places that act as crossroads for millions of passengers. In 2016, Canada's airports accommodated more than 140 million passengers.

  Note to readers

This survey collects data on passengers enplaned and deplaned and cargo loaded and unloaded at Canadian airports.

With each release, data for the previous reference year may be revised.


Additional analytical information is now available in "Airport Activity: Air Carrier Traffic at Canadian Airports" as part of the service bulletin Aviation (Catalogue number51-004-X).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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