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May 16, 2008 | General

EDMONTON — The number of passengers flying to and from Edmonton leaped by 26% in 1996, Edmonton Airports reported today.

In 1995, close to 2.8 million passengers (2,779,409) flew from either the Edmonton Municipal Airport (now the City Centre Airport) or the Edmonton International Airport. In 1996, that number jumped to 3.5 million (3,505,552).

Consolidation of air traffic at the International Airport took place on June 1, 1996. Consequently, that airport showed a particularly sharp increase in traffic last year. In 1995, the International processed just under two million passengers (1,943,797), and in 1996, that number grew to over 3.1 million (3,104,322), a 60% hike.

Edmonton Airports projects that air traffic in 1997 will grow to 3.8 million passengers.

The 1996 results are in sharp contrast to recent air traffic growth. Over the past five years, Edmonton air traffic has actually declined or grown only slightly year to year:

-1991: declined 11% compared to 1990
-1992: grew 1% over 1991
-1993: declined 4% from 1992
-1994: grew 1% over 1993
-1995: grew 5% over 1994

“There are several explanations for this dramatic increase,” said Scott Clements, President and CEO of Edmonton Airports. “Certainly the more optimistic business climate is a major contributor, as is the introduction of low cost carriers WestJet and Greyhound in 1996. We also believe that our new non-stop flights to Seattle, Regina, Kelowna, Victoria, Whitehorse, Halifax, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic have attracted travellers who might have previously chosen other forms of transportation, or travelled via Calgary.”

“These numbers underline the need for an expansion at the International Airport,” continued Clements. “No facility could sustain a 60% increase in business without showing some strain, and our projections for the future show that traffic will continue to increase at the International.”

Edmonton Airports recently announced that Martinair Holland will reintroduce its summer charter service to Amsterdam in 1997. Negotiations are underway with both charter and scheduled carriers to serve new routes in both Europe and the United States.