Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ottawa airport finances looking up after years of pandemic struggles | CBC News

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After years of declining numbers and finances due to the pandemic, the Ottawa International Airport is reporting an increase in passenger numbers, and with them more revenue. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

After years of pandemic-related travel struggles, officials with the Ottawa International Airport say they’re feeling optimistic that their finances and passenger traffic are finally starting to look up.

In its 2023 financial report, the Ottawa International Airport Authority announced it saw an increase in domestic and international passengers, inching closer to pre-pandemic volumes from 2019.

“I’m so pleased to see our passenger volume building back and our finances turned around,” said the authority’s president and CEO Mark Laroche in a statement Monday. 

The total number of passengers arriving at or departing from the airport reached 4,095,915 in 2023, compared to just under three million passengers in 2022.

It’s still a long way from the 5.1 million passengers passing through the airport in 2018 and 2019.

Revenues took off in 2023

Most of its passenger traffic is within Canada, around 3.2 million. 

However, there’s been a 241 per cent increase in international passengers excluding the United States, accounting for around 315,000 passengers in 2023.

The rest were about 575,000 people flying to and from the U.S.

A plane on a tarmac at sunset.
A United Airlines plane near the Ottawa airport terminal in 2021. According to its financial report, 4.1 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2023. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The airport is also reporting earning $145.6 million in revenues in 2023, 30 per cent higher than the year before. The report said rising passenger numbers means more revenue.

“After several years of fiscal restraint and hardship due to the effects of the pandemic, it’s wonderful to be operating with positive earnings,” said Laroche.

If the trend continues — and 2024 is off to a better start than 2023 — Laroche said it will allow the airport to set aside the funds to repay a debt of about $100 million racked up during the pandemic.

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