Passenger numbers are finally turning around, Hamilton airport officials say

Passenger numbers were down yet again in 2015. But in August of this year, they finally started to pick up.
NewLeaf's first flight out of Hamilton departed for Winnipeg in July. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Passenger numbers at Hamilton's airport have long fallen short of expectations. But with new discount airlines operating out of the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, there a signs of a turn-around.

Price is the primary driver of people choosing an airline.- Vijay Bathija, CEO, Hamilton airport

Passenger counts at the Hamilton airport have dropped more than 100,000 since 2009.

That trend continued in 2015, shows the 2015 annual report, which new CEO Vijay Bathija presented at city council's general issues committee on Wednesday.

There were 312,839 passenger flights from the airport in 2015, the presentation shows. That's down from 332,378 in 2014 and 341,470 in 2013.

But that trend line is changing, Bathija said.

Passenger flights this year lagged behind the number of flights last year up until August, when they shot ahead of the 2015 actuals.

NewLeaf, a new travel company operating through Flair Air, is part of that. The company began flights out of Hamilton earlier this year, although it has had a rocky start.

So is the performance of the other passenger carriers in Hamilton, which are as follows:

  • Air Canada.
  • WestJet.
  • Air Transat.
  • Sunwing Airlines.

Bathija said the airport, which is operated by TradePort, will continue to work to offer more options and better prices.

"It's a commodity business," he said. "Price is the primary driver of people choosing an airline."

As usual, cargo flights have increased.

Here are some numbers from the report:

  • The airport says it's provided $245.8 million in direct financial benefit to the city since 1996.
  • 448,113,000 kilograms in total landed cargo aircraft billable weight landed in Hamilton in 2015.