Edmonton’s International Airport is well-positioned for growth in 2014 and beyond

Last year was a good one for the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) with a record-breaking 6.9 million passengers served. Additionally, corporate charter flights from the private terminals increased 30%.

“These record-breaking numbers show that Edmonton International Airport completed its expansion just in time. EIA is a not-for-profit corporation that works for the benefit of our region. To foster economic growth, both air service and our airport facilities must keep pace with demand from our region,” said EIA Vice President of Passenger Market Development Traci Bednard.

There were other positives in 2013 too. Non-stop service to New York City began in May, the new NAV CANADA Air Traffic Control Tower began operations in the spring, Icelandair announced service between Edmonton and Reykjavik, and a new Dallas/Fort Worth flight was announced.

New EIA Air Traffic Control Tower

According to EIA itself, 2013 was its second straight record-breaking year, following strong increases in 2011 and 2012 (other statistics are available here). Thing is, air traffic is up around the world, and EIA wasn’t the only airport to report a record-breaking 2013; Montreal’s Trudeau Airport, the Victoria International Airport, and dozens of international airports did as well. Many others have yet to report figures. I wanted to see EIA’s growth in context, so I went to Statistics Canada to get the data.

Here’s a look at EIA’s passenger traffic growth since 1995 (using data from Statistics Canada, except for 2013, which comes from EIA directly):

eia passenger traffic

Here’s what the year-over-year change has looked like in that same period:

eia passenger traffic change

The massive spike in 1996 was of course due to the consolidation of scheduled service at EIA. In the 2001-2003 period, after 9/11, EIA experienced a slowdown in traffic just as airports everywhere did. Since then, EIA has grown significantly, from about 3 million passengers a year to nearly 7 million in 2013.

I wondered what EIA’s passenger traffic growth has looked like compared with other airports in Canada. Again using figures from Statistics Canada, here’s a look at ten Canadian airports:

airport passenger traffic

What stands out for me is that EIA broke away from the pack in the mid-2000s to become the clear #5 airport behind Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary. There was a slowdown in growth between 2008 and 2010, but EIA seems to have turned things around.

Though passengers are the metric we often think of, aircraft movements is another that is useful to track. One movement is a landing or takeoff of an aircraft and an itinerant movement is essentially a flight from one airport to another. Here’s a look at the itinerant movements for the same airports:

airport movements

Here EIA isn’t as clearly the #5 airport, though it has moved up significantly from the mid-2000s and is now approaching 300,000 itinerant movements per year.

Expansion 2012

If current trends continue, EIA should finally break the 7-million-passengers-per-year milestone in 2014, and the airport’s prospects for growth beyond that look encouraging. I certainly feel that the Expansion 2012 project has resulted in a more attractive, functional airport, and the numbers seem to support that. It’s also a similar sentiment that I often hear Edmontonians express. They’re proud of the airport now, whereas they weren’t before. Future expansion plans will not only add capacity, but will also bring a new hotel and an outlet shopping mall to EIA. And certainly Edmonton’s hot economy will continue to push usage ever higher. Altogether, it makes the outlook for EIA look very good indeed.

For more on EIA’s impressive 2013, check out the press release here.

  • Ben Freeland

    Thanks for a great piece on EIA! Once again you’re the go-to blogger for all things Edmontonian. One further EIA statistic you might want to mention is that while we’re #5 in passenger traffic and aircraft movement, we’re #3 on social media – both in terms of Twitter followers and Facebook likes. In fact this year we became only the third airport in Canada to reach 10,000 followers on Twitter.

    Love to know what you think of my own personal blog post here on why Alberta needs two legitimate international air hubs. This is not an EIA blog post, although it stems from stuff I’ve learned about the industry I work in.

    http://brushtalk.blogspot.ca/2013/12/why-alberta-deserves-two-real-air-hubs.html

    Keep up the great work!
    Ben Freeland