Pearson Airport in Mississauga is 2nd busiest airport in Canada


Published April 20, 2022 at 4:16 am

Confirmed measles in from Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario: Whitby Durham Health Department

For the second consecutive year, Pearson Airport in Mississauga was not the busiest airport in Canada in 2021 as measured by number of takeoffs and landings.

After leading in that category for 38 straight years, Canada’s largest airport dropped to second place in 2020 and again last year, trailing a seemingly unlikely location both times.

The culprit at Pearson has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically impacted the number of people travelling by air the past two years.

Smaller airports, such as Boundary Bay Airport in southern British Columbia, identified by Statistics Canada as the country’s busiest airport the past two years as measured by takeoffs and landings, have experienced more moderate declines in those numbers. 

Pearson did, however, once again serve more travelers last year (12.7 million) than any other Canadian airport, though that number is still dramatically lower than pre-pandemic marks.

According to StatsCan, Boundary Bay Airport recorded 211,335 aircraft movements (takeoffs/landings) in 2021 compared to Pearson’s 174,138 movements. It’s just the second time since 1983 that the Mississauga-based airport didn’t lead in those numbers. 

Abbotsford Airport (B.C.) was third in 2021, with 169,017 takeoffs and landings.

Source: Statistics Canada

According to StatsCan, local air traffic movements made up more than three-fifths of traffic at both Boundary Bay and Abbotsford.

In 2020, Boundary Bay was the site of 185,431 takeoffs/landings while Pearson recorded 175,060 movements.

Going back to 2019, prior to the pandemic, Pearson Airport recorded 455,107 takeoffs/landings, by far the most at any of the country’s airports. Boundary Bay (217,156) placed fourth that year, behind Pearson, Vancouver Airport (332,215) and Calgary (238,846).

StatsCan notes once again that Canada’s largest air passenger hubs, such as Pearson, were hit the hardest the past two years by the huge drop-off in airline travel caused by the pandemic. The country’s smaller airports experienced more moderate declines. 

Boundary Bay is a municipally-owned general aviation airport in Delta, B.C., south of Vancouver. It opened as a flight training centre during World War II. 

Source: Statistics Canada

Four of Canada’s 10 busiest airports in 2021, as tracked by aircraft movements, are in B.C. while two are in Ontario. 

Kitchener/Waterloo Airport is sixth on the list, with 133,293 takeoffs and landings last year (compared to 107,251 in 2020 and 140,875 in 2019). 

Vancouver International (166,935) and Calgary/Sprinbank (138,969) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

In terms of passengers served, Pearson Airport was still tops in the country in 2021 with 12.7 million. That’s down slightly from 13.3 million in 2020 and dramatically fewer than the 50.5 million passengers served in 2019. 

Vancouver placed second in 2021 (7.1 million passengers) while Calgary Airport was third on the list (6.3 million passengers). Those same airports rounded out the top three in 2020 as well.

The only other Ontario airport in the top 10 is Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier, with nearly 1.2 million passengers handled last year. 

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