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Monthly civil aviation statistics, July 2023

Released: 2023-09-28

Highlights

In July, major Canadian airlines carried over 7 million passengers for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At 7.6 million, the number of passengers was up 13.0% year over year.

With traffic at 21.8 billion passenger-kilometres and capacity at 24.3 billion available seat-kilometres, the passenger load factor reached 89.7% in July 2023—a record high since the start of this data series in 2015.

Operating revenue earned in July exceeded the pre-pandemic level from 2019 for the eighth consecutive month.

Weather and wildfires affect the summer travel season

In summer 2023, Canada experienced its worst wildfire season on record, shutting down some airports and affecting operations at others because of low visibility in smoke. Extreme weather events, such as severe thunderstorms and floods, also caused disruptions.

Capacity constraints because of staff shortages combined with smaller fleets following the retirement of older aircraft during the pandemic made it more difficult for airlines to recover from disturbances. Despite these challenges, typical seasonal increases in operating statistics were observed in July.

Recovery milestones reached despite challenges

Canadian Level I air carriers flew 7.6 million passengers on scheduled and charter services in July 2023, the first month since January 2020 where the number of passengers reached 7 million. This was 5.2% below the pre-pandemic level reported in July 2019, a slight pause in the recovery from June (-4.1% from June 2019). The number of passengers on international flights was above pre-pandemic levels for the third consecutive month.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Passengers carried by Canadian Level I air carriers, July, 2019 to 2023
Passengers carried by Canadian Level I air carriers, July, 2019 to 2023

Air carriers were flying with fewer empty seats in July. With traffic at 21.8 billion passenger-kilometres and capacity at 24.3 billion available seat-kilometres, the passenger load factor (the ratio of passenger-kilometres to available seat-kilometres) was 89.7% in July. This is the highest percentage recorded since load factors have been tracked beginning in January 2015.

Each passenger travelled an average of 2,862 kilometres in July, similar to the pre-pandemic level in July 2019 (2,838 kilometres).

At 189,000, the number of flying hours in July 2023 was 9.6% below the pre-pandemic level.

Operating revenue earned by Level I air carriers totalled $2.9 billion in July, 14.2% higher than in July 2019.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Passengers carried, Canadian air carriers, Level I
Passengers carried, Canadian air carriers, Level I

Chart 3  Chart 3: Passenger load factor, Canadian air carriers, Level I
Passenger load factor, Canadian air carriers, Level I

Chart 4  Chart 4: 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.

Data for the previous three months have been revised.

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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