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Monthly civil aviation statistics, May 2022

Released: 2022-07-28

Highlights

Major Canadian airlines carried 5.3 million passengers on scheduled and charter services in May 2022, more than 10 times the number of passengers carried in May 2021 and just over three-quarters (77.3%) of the May 2019 level. For the first time since February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 5 million passengers took to the skies on Level I air carrier flights.

With air traffic at 13.2 billion passenger-kilometres and capacity at 16.7 billion available seat-kilometres, the passenger load factor (the ratio of passenger-kilometres to available seat-kilometres) was 78.9% in May.

The $1.6 billion operating revenue earned was 79.5% of that earned before the pandemic in May 2019.

Rapid recovery brings new challenges

In May, as travel-deprived passengers signalled their return, airlines entered their summer schedules, restarted previously suspended routes and introduced some new routes not served before the pandemic. The rapid increase in passenger volumes put a strain on airports, airlines and operations overall. This resulted in long waits at security checkpoints and customs, as well as flight delays and cancellations, as aircrafts were tied up waiting for gates and crew members exhausted their duty times.

On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In the months that followed, Canadian air travel remained well below historical levels. Unless otherwise specified, comparisons for a given month are made with the same month in 2019 (also referred to as "pre-pandemic levels"), when airline activity levels were in line with historical trends.

Recovery advances rapidly in May

Canadian Level I air carriers flew 5.3 million passengers on scheduled and charter services in May, reaching more than three-quarters (77.3%) of the pre-pandemic level reported in May 2019. This was a higher proportion than the two-thirds (66.2%) recorded in April (compared with April 2019) and the fourth consecutive month of improvement.

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Passengers carried by Canadian Level I air carriers, monthly, 2019 to 2022
Passengers carried by Canadian Level I air carriers, monthly, 2019 to 2022

Typically, there is a small seasonal decline in passenger numbers from April to May, but this year they rose by 13.0% amid increasing travel demand. The increase was entirely in the domestic sector, as the number of passengers on international flights remained essentially the same as in April.

With air traffic at 13.2 billion passenger-kilometres and capacity at 16.7 billion available seat-kilometres, the passenger load factor was 78.9% in May, similar to April's 79.1%, but lower than the 83.9% recorded in May 2019.

Each passenger travelled an average of 2,499 kilometres in May, down 4.7% from May 2019.

At 142,000, the number of flying hours in May was 79.8% of the pre-pandemic level.

Operating revenue earned by Level I air carriers totalled $1.6 billion in May, almost four-fifths (79.5%) of the $2.0 billion earned in the same month in 2019, pre-pandemic.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Passengers carried, Canadian air carriers, Level I
Passengers carried, Canadian air carriers, Level I

Chart 2  Chart 2: Passenger load factor, Canadian air carriers, Level I
Passenger load factor, Canadian air carriers, Level I

Chart 3  Chart 3: Turbo fuel consumed, Canadian air carriers, Level I
Turbo fuel consumed, Canadian air carriers, Level I

  Note to readers

The Monthly Civil Aviation Survey covers all Canadian Level I air carriers: Air Canada (including Air Canada Rouge), Air Transat, Jazz, Porter, Sunwing and WestJet (including Swoop, WestJet Encore and WestJet Link).

The average passenger trip length is calculated by dividing the number of passenger-kilometres by the number of passengers. Trips across Canada and around the world are included in this calculation.

The data in this monthly release are not seasonally adjusted.

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; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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