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Quebec Airport: 1.7 million passengers in 2023, but moderate growth over the next two years

Quebec Airport: 1.7 million passengers in 2023, but moderate growth over the next two years

Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) continued its growth in 2023 with a total of 1.68 million passengers, or 43.8% more than the previous year. But the next two years should be more modest.

Although expected in 2024, passenger traffic is unlikely to reach 2019 levels until 2025 or even 2026, according to Stephane Poirier, president and CEO of Quebec Jean Lesage International Airport.

He added: “It will take another two years before the situation stabilizes, especially with regard to the availability of aircraft. […] We should not expect impressive growth in 2024 and 2025. It will see growth of 1% or 2% at best because there are not enough planes and not enough pilots, but that will decline in 2026. We should expect reasonable growth over the next two years,” warned Mr. Poirier.

In 2019, the number of passengers reached 1.78 million, an increase of 100,000 passengers over last year. It's especially international flights that have saved the day in Quebec since business customers have been traveling in smaller numbers since the pandemic.

“Business people have gravitated to Teams and Zoom and are traveling less for short stays now,” Mr. Poirier added.

“On the other hand, international traffic has increased by 23% since 2019 and this is the key to success in the case of YQB,” he continued.

In 2023, there were 37 direct flight destinations, which is unprecedented in Quebec's history.

Good news for sun lovers as direct Air Canada-Fort Lauderdale flights will return in the fall. FLIR also announced flights between Quebec and Toronto Pearson starting in the summer, with three flights per week.

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“We have given ourselves a mantra to work constructively with key players in the region and to set win-win conditions for improved air service,” the president and CEO announced during the presentation of the 2023 annual report on Tuesday.

Financial situation

The operating deficit is $1.2 million, while we expected about $10 million.

Mr. Poirier explains this result by the fact that the airport recorded more commercial revenues, whether through parking products, food offers, duty free, etc.

“It allows us to balance the books without putting pressure on airport fees, which is always a good deal.”

During the pandemic, YQB projected a $100 million deficit. Finally, with “better” than expected financial results, the deficit reaches $70 million. But the accumulated debt amounts to $344 million. This includes, in particular, the expansion of the terminal and infrastructure works. Moreover, work began last year to ensure the sustainability of the facilities and runways and will continue this year without disrupting airport activities.

Quebec airport in low numbers

  • 1,688,736 passengers passed through YQB in 2023
  • YQB recovered 94% of 2019 passenger traffic
  • 37 destinations were offered
  • 12 air tankers
  • $80.3 million in revenue
  • $15.8 million in landing fees and terminal fees
  • $28.9 million from parking, concessions, rentals, services, etc

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