You are currently viewing Flytrippers Exclusive: How Many People Are Traveling In Canada Now

Everyone knows that the air travel industry has been hit extremely hard by the coronavirus crisis, with airlines sadly grounding fleets and cutting many jobs. In this Flytrippers exclusive, we give you a look at just how low passenger numbers have gotten in Canada, and how it compares to last year (spoiler alert: it’s really low).

We have been helping you stay informed about the coronavirus’ impact on travelers, because even though we’d much rather be helping you travel more as we’ve done for years, Canadians should stay at home for now to save lives.

Despite this, airports are still open, of course, and some flights are still operating, both domestically and internationally (hopefully, most people traveling are doing so for essential reasons or to get back home).

We wanted to know exactly how many people were flying and traveling in Canada now.

So here are the numbers (we’ve included them all in a useful infographic at the very end as well) and a teaser for our upcoming coverage, with a map of flights currently in the Canadian airspace.


Canadian Air Passenger Numbers

Airlines have published some figures about the drop in demand, but nothing specific enough to allow us to know exactly how many people are still flying in Canada.

So we decided to get statistics from two reliable sources who know the number of travelers:

  • CATSA for how many passengers are originating in a Canadian airport
  • CBSA for how many passengers are going through customs in a Canadian airport

As a reminder:

  • the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is in charge of airport security checks
  • the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is in charge of international arrivals and customs


Air Passengers Originating In A Canadian Airport

We first reached out to CATSA for exclusive data on how many passengers are being screened on departure (and therefore flying out of a Canadian airport).

Here are the numbers they graciously provided for the last 7 days available:


This week’s numbers mean nothing on their own, which is why we also asked for the passenger numbers for the exact same day last year.

A 97% drop is massive, obviously.

Here are the detailed daily numbers if you’re interested:


(As traffic volume varies greatly from one day of the week to another, the Tuesday is compared to the same Tuesday last year.)

Under 5,000 air passengers in all of Canada for a day is tiny. For perspective, this entire week’s volume of passengers was only 22% of the daily volume last year! And it is actually a bit worse, believe it or not, because screening numbers also include airport employees and airline crews.

In short, even though some would expect the numbers to be even closer to zero, given that all of Canada is under orders to stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, these are incredibly low passenger numbers (that are likely to keep dropping for a while).

CATSA was established in 2002 (when airport security changed drastically due to the 9/11 attacks) and while they couldn’t provide historical data to put these numbers in context, if the US TSA’s numbers (story to come, sign up for free) are any indication, these are probably the lowest passenger numbers in the CATSA’s history (and way beyond).

The only caveat is the data provided only includes Canada’s 8 largest airports, but this will still represent a vast majority of passengers in Canada (82% of total volume in 2018, so we could easily extrapolate to estimate the precise total amount of air travelers left in Canada).

The fact is that the decrease in percentage is surely similar in smaller airports. The 8 largest airports the CATSA tracks are 8 of the cities Flytrippers spots cheap flight deals from (and will continue to do once this crisis is over). From West to East: Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Winnipeg (YWG), Toronto (YYZ), Ottawa (YOW), Montreal (YUL), and Halifax (YHZ).


Air Passengers Arriving In Canada

That covers passengers departing from Canada. The other component is the number of passengers arriving in the country.

The Canada Border Services Agency provided numbers for the most recent full 7-day period:


With Canada’s borders being closed, it’s again not very surprising to see drops of 97% and 95%… but wow, these are still impressive numbers to see.


Travelers Arriving By Land

In case you are interested, the CBSA also provided numbers about how many people are entering Canada via land borders from the US, and the drop is just as steep.


Again, a 95% decrease in incoming travelers is massive. Even the numbers for truck drivers, who aren’t facing any entry restrictions, are down.


Map Of Canadian Air Traffic

We’ll continue our coronavirus coverage with data on flights, grounded planes, passenger numbers from our Southern neighbors, and much more.

Here’s a teaser: as you can see from this live shot, there are still quite a few flights over the Canadian airspace as of Friday at 2 pm:


Although, at least if we compare to the US, Canada looks a lot better. You might be tempted to wonder if someone should tell Americans that there is a pandemic going on… but we’ll tell you more about what’s going on down there, too (there is an explanation—well, kind of).

We also have video animations to share, for example, some showing airspace changes around the world (it’s quite impressive).

We’ll be publishing that very soon (and a lot more content for Canadian travelers), so please sign up to our free newsletter to get everything in your inbox:

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Full Infographic On How Many People Are Traveling In Canada Now

Here’s the complete infographic if you would like to see or share the data in a more visual way.

(see the full-size version)



There are still quite a few people traveling by plane in Canada, but the drop is massive nonetheless. These are likely the lowest numbers in decades, which should give you all an idea of how badly airlines and travel industry as a whole are affected by the coronavirus crisis.


Are you surprised by these numbers? Tell us in the comments below!

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Featured image: Toronto-Pearson (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sharon Taylor

    I thought that our borders were closed to everyone who is not a resident of
    Canada? Are all these people returning to Canada from the US and Internationl destinations all
    Canadian citizens? How come it took them so long to return? We have all known about the border
    closure for about 1 month now!

  2. Elaine

    Those numbers are still way too high, there should be zero people flying right now and virtually no one coming into Canada except trucks by land right now.

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