For years, charming and petite Victoria has been attracting visitors from around the world, and its airport was consistently named the 10th busiest in the country.
But that changed last year, as Kelowna narrowly beat out Victoria for number of passengers received at their airport.
The mainland community welcomed just over 2.08 million passengers in 2018, while Victoria saw roughly 2.049 million visitors arrive by air.
“Victoria has had record years for the past 5 years,” Geoff Dickson, president and CEO of YYJ, told Victoria Buzz. “We’ve had phenomenal growth, as has Vancouver airport as has Kelowna.”
Both cities have seen significant growth in terms of visitors in recent years, with Victoria breaking 2 million guests for the first time ever in 2018 and reporting a 6% increase in passengers.
“Kelowna had 9% growth and Victoria had 6%,” said Dickson.
In response to the rapid increase in travellers, YYJ started construction on a $19.4 million expansion project in January 2018.
“Reaching this milestone three years ahead of our long term forecast has kept us busy bringing forward key infrastructure improvements,” Dickson said in a statement back in December.
This expansion is the airport’s largest investment to date, and will double the size of the lower passenger departure lounge and add new aircraft boarding gates, new walkways, new and expanded washrooms, and more food & beverage and retail amenities.
The project is being constructed in 3 phases, with the first expected to be completed in August of this year, and the last by spring 2020.
“We appreciate the continued support and confidence from travellers and our community as we work to build an airport that is efficient, easy to use and friendly.”