The Edmonton International Airport (YEG) expects its passenger numbers to reach nearly 90% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, a recovery pace much faster than it originally projected.
YEG served 8.15 million passengers in 2019 before losing millions of trips to the global pandemic. It expects to hit 7.2 million passengers by the end of this year.
The speedier-than-expected recovery rate is a testament to support from YEG's ecosystem, said Myron Keehn, who became CEO in 2022. "It really has a lot to do with our community and our passengers and our airlines," he told Taproot.
Keehn wouldn't get into the specifics of how the money was spent, but the fund's stated objective was to "help attract strategic passenger and cargo flights," which it did.
"We had more non-stop destinations at the end of 2022 than we had in 2019. In 2019, we had 52 non-stop destinations and in 2022, we had 55," he said. "It allowed us to attract airlines to come back more quickly, or to launch new routes."
Some of those new non-stop destinations include Frankfurt, Nashville, Tucson, Quebec City, Moncton, and Charlottetown.
Edmonton is somewhat behind Calgary in its recovery, in part because YYC was permitted to operate international flights at the height of pandemic restrictions, while Edmonton was not. At YEG, domestic passenger rates are recovering faster than international ones.
"We have to rebuild our knowledge externally to Canada that people can fly internationally (to and from YEG)," said Keehn.