Monthly civil aviation statistics, March 2023
Major Canadian airlines carried 6.8 million passengers on scheduled and charter services in March, up 59.3% from the same month in 2022, but 12.1% below the March 2019 level, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
With traffic at 17.8 billion passenger-kilometres and capacity at 20.5 billion available seat-kilometres, the passenger load factor was 86.7% in March, above the pre-pandemic March 2019 level.
Operating revenue earned in March exceeded the pre-pandemic level for the fourth consecutive month.
Seasonal trends return
Earlier in the pandemic, seasonal trends in air travel were overshadowed by health considerations, travel restrictions and recovery patterns. However, the first three months of 2023 displayed a typical seasonal pattern. February, a shorter month, had month-over-month declines in all operating statistics except the load factor, which is not affected by the number of flying days. In contrast, March, being longer and including the March break period in most provinces, saw increases in all operating statistics.
Three years of pandemic
The month of March 2023 marked three years since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Canadian Level I air carriers flew 6.8 million passengers on scheduled and charter services in March. This was 12.1% below the pre-pandemic level reported in March 2019. Since September 2022, the gap of passengers carried compared with pre-pandemic levels has fluctuated from 9% to 15%.
In March, the number of passengers on international routes continued to be closer to 2019 levels than passenger counts for the domestic sector were.
With traffic at 17.8 billion passenger-kilometres and capacity at 20.5 billion available seat-kilometres, the passenger load factor (the ratio of passenger-kilometres to available seat-kilometres) was 86.7% in March. This was two percentage points higher than the factor recorded in March 2019 (84.7%), prior to the pandemic.
Each passenger travelled an average of 2,630 kilometres in March, up 1.9% from the pre-pandemic level.
At 169,000, the number of flying hours in March was 16.7% below the pre-pandemic level.
Operating revenue earned by Level I air carriers totalled $2.4 billion in March, up 9.0% from March 2019.
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.
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