A spike in the number of domestic travellers visiting the National Capital Region in 2017 offset declines in direct travel from the United States and the rest of the word, according to the Ottawa International Airport Authority’s annual report.
Revenues for the Ottawa airport were $128.3 million last year, up slightly from $121.9 million in 2016. The airport posted a net profit of $3.8 million in 2017, an improvement from 2016’s loss of $5.3 million.
For the second year in a row, the fastest-growing revenue segment for the airport was concessions, which grew 13.8 per cent year-over-year.
More than 4.8 million travellers passed through the Ottawa airport last year as total passenger volumes increased by two per cent from 2016.
An increase in domestic travellers drove the higher volumes. Roughly 3.81 million people travelled within the country through Ottawa in 2017, compared with 3.68 million the year before.
Chief executive Mark Laroche credited the hype surrounding the capital’s Canada 150 celebrations as a draw for Canadian travellers.
“Thanks to many amazing events and a healthy local economy, we recorded increases in passenger volumes and positive revenue growth for the year,” he said in a statement.
That enthusiasm helped to offset declining traffic from beyond Canada’s borders. Transborder and international passenger volumes were down 3.8 and 3.1 per cent respectively from 2016. Both figures declined roughly 12 per cent from 2015 levels.
Statistics released by Ottawa Tourism earlier this week indicate that international and American travellers were still finding their way to the capital, however. The local tourism agency says U.S. visitations were up 7.8 per cent and international visitors increased by 10.9 per cent last year.
The figures suggest that tourists from beyond Canada's borders had layovers in domestic airports such as Toronto's Pearson International before flying to Ottawa.
The airport’s annual report points to Air Canada and WestJet increasingly routing U.S. travellers through Pearson and WestJet’s reduced international frequencies as primary reasons for the decline.