Canadian airports are seeing an uptick in activity since Canada eased its travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, according to new data released by Statistics Canada on Friday (Nov. 12).
Figures for the month of October showed 263,400 non-resident arrivals at Canadian airports, representing more than a 14-fold increase compared to the same time last year.
This is an increase from the same month last year, but the numbers “remain well below the pre-pandemic levels of October 2019,” StatCan notes.
Meanwhile, the number of Canadian residents returning from abroad via the same airports was over eight times greater in October than in October 2020.
U.S. residents made 292,200 trips to Canada through land ports equipped with electronic sensors in October 2021, over 225,000 more than in October 2020.
Likewise, in October 2021, there were more than 45,000 more Canadians who returned from the U.S. (for a total of 207,600 in the month) through the same land ports than in October 2020.
Canada opens to fully vaccinated travellers
The federal government has opened Canada's borders to all fully vaccinated international travellers.
Also, since Oct. 30, 2021, all air travellers departing on flights from Canadian airports have been required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel.
There is a short period during which people who are in the process of getting vaccinated can show a negative COVID-19 test in order to travel. However, that allowance will end on Nov. 30, 2021.
The United States reopened its land border to fully vaccinated travellers, including Canadian residents, following the opening of ports of entry on Nov. 8, 2021.
Non-resident arrivals by air
Arrivals of non-residents—from overseas countries (149,200) and the United States (114,200)—at Canadian airports equipped with Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIKs) numbered 263,400 in October, up from 18,300 in October 2020.
Despite this increase, it is less than half (43.3%) of the 608,000 such arrivals in October 2019.
The increase in October 2021 comes partly from the inclusion of international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1 where the PIK system was fully implemented as of June 22, 2021. Infographic 1 shows the counts both including and excluding international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1.
Non-resident arrivals by car
In October, U.S. residents took 292,200 trips to Canada in US-licensed automobiles through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) application.
While over four and a half times higher than the 64,700 trips taken in October 2020, it was less than one-third (29.4%) of the 994,100 US arrivals by car during the same month in 2019.
Canadians returning by air
While about half (51.1%) of the number from the same month in 2019, the number of Canadian residents flying back from abroad in October 2021 via Canadian airports equipped with PIKs was 480,100, up from 58,400 in October 2020, says Statistics Canada.
Again, some of the increase from October 2020 to October 2021 reflects the inclusion of international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1.
Whether including or excluding these arrivals, there were more returning Canadians flying home in October 2021.
Canadians returning by car
In October, there were 207,600 Canadian residents who returned from the U.S. in Canadian-licensed automobiles via the 111 IPIL equipped ports, says Statistics Canada.
The number is up significantly from the 159,500 recorded in October 2020.
Given that the U.S. land border was closed for non-essential travel until Nov. 8, 2021, this represents about one-tenth (10.3%) of the 2.0 million Canadians who drove back across the border in October 2019.