680K people flew from London airport in 2019. What that means for next year's service

London International Airport saw a massive jump in passengers in 2019, breaking a record for the city's airport but not reaching the goal it had predicted.

Air Canada and Swoop are adding routes this summer but the much missed U.S. flights aren't back yet

London International Airport in London, Ont. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

London International Airport saw a massive jump in passengers in 2019, breaking a record for the city's airport but not reaching the goal it had predicted. 

There were 683,155 people who boarded flights from London, more than a quarter more than the previous year. But it fell shy of the 800,000 mark it had been aiming for.  

"It was terrific growth for us," said Mike Seabrook, president and CEO of the airport. "Led by new services by Swoop and additional services by our regular carriers, it was a good year for us." 

The WestJet Airline ultra-low cost subsidiary Swoop started operating in London, with some growing pains, in the spring of 2019 with flights to Las Vegas and Orlando. 

Air Canada and WestJet also leave the city to destinations across Canada, with Air Transat and Sunwing flying to sunny destinations. 

What about New York and Chicago?

In total, there are 15 destinations to choose from, with Seabrook speculating additions in the coming years. 

"As Toronto gets busier, and it is, smaller aircraft are going to have more difficulty getting in there. As a result, secondary airports in Ontario have the ability to attract new services." 

He said Air Canada is adding routes to Calgary this summer, with Swoop going to Winnipeg. As for flights to the United States, like the routes that used to go to Chicago and New York City, Seabrook is not convinced they'll be back soon. 

"They're the two most sought after services and we're working on it," he explains. "There are few factors that don't play in our favour. The low Canadian dollar, for example, can be difficult for American carriers. 

"But we're trying!" 

Delays to and from Toronto

Seabrook also says the airport is taking a close look at delays between London and Pearson International, working with Air Canada and Westjet on improving reliability.

He explains the issue has to do with how runways work at Pearson, where they have a north-south corridor and an east-west corridor, the latter used by flights coming from London. 

"When conditions favour the north-south runways, it disrupts inter-Ontario flying and makes flying into Toronto unreliable," Seabrook said. 

He calls it an industry issue and one he wants improved.


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