Passenger traffic up at Charlottetown Airport, cruise ship traffic down

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‘We were certainly expecting to see numbers up for the summer months,’ says airport CEO

By Sam Juric · CBC News · Posted: Aug 22, 2019

The last few summers have seen “really strong” numbers, says Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Charlottetown Airport saw a boost in passenger traffic for July, up by 7.2 per cent from last year — positively impacting overall tourism numbers for the Island in July. 

In February, the airport announced significant increases in seat capacity with both Air Canada and WestJet for the summer months. 

The increase in seats is likely one of the major reasons for the bump in passenger traffic, said Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority.  

“Really what’s happened in July is that that increased capacity has resulted in more opportunities to fly direct to Charlottetown and we’re pleased to see passenger traffic up,” Newson said. 

The last few summers have seen “really strong” numbers, he said. 

‘Traffic seems busy’

“We were pleased to see that additional capacity added to the market and we were certainly expecting to see numbers up for the summer months,” Newson said. 

While the airport authority does not yet have a specific breakdown of the numbers, he said, more detailed data will be available in the coming months. 

We are optimistic that we will see increases right throughout the rest of the year— Doug Newson, CEO, Charlottetown Airport Authority

“We are seeing a significant amount of extra seats in August as well and traffic seems busy. We don’t get the results until the end of the month obviously, but August will be very strong. It will probably be a record month for the airport authority,” he said. 

Officials at Tourism P.E.I. believe campaigns to the Ontario and international markets are also having an impact on air traffic.

“Collectively with our federal and Atlantic Canadian counterparts, we market Atlantic Canada and Prince Edward Island to international markets in the United States and abroad,” said Kent MacDonald, CEO of Tourism P.E.I. 

“And then we have our own domestic campaigns that run specifically in Ontario, that are helping boost the air traffic as well.” 

Though cruise ship traffic was down 31 per cent for July compared to July 2018, Port Charlottetown officials say numbers were up in June. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

When it comes to air traffic the fall numbers are also looking positive, Newson said, while they may not be quite as high as the summer months.

“But we are optimistic that we will see increases right throughout the rest of the year,” he said.  

Cruise ship traffic

While air traffic has had a positive effect on the Island’s overall tourism figures, not all the summer’s numbers have been positive. 

Cruise ship traffic saw a dip, down by 31 per cent in July compared to July 2018.

The monthly reporting is always tricky to compare year over year because a ship or two can shift by a few days putting them into other months, Port Charlottetown officials said. 

They note that while July’s numbers weren’t strong, June numbers were up. They also anticipate that August will see positive numbers — with the fall expected to be their busiest yet. 

Port Charlottetown officials said last year there were around 98,000 cruise ship passengers.

The projected overall number for this season is nearly 150,000.

With files from Angela Walker