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2018 saw YYJ surpass the two million passenger mark with annual passengers of 2.049 million. The question is at what rate will growth continue over the next five, ten, fifteen years, and when can we expect to achieve 2.5 million, 3.0 million and 3.5 million passengers?
Our long-term forecasts predict 3% annual average growth and that is how our capital expansion plans are designed. Our mission is to stay just ahead of the demand curve and have the flexibility to move up or push back capital projects depending on how growth materializes. YYJ is one of only two airports in the National Airport System that is debt-free, which helps keep our costs low and provides the ability to adapt capital plans.
We are well underway with our 27-month lower terminal expansion which commenced January 2018, and phase I will be completed in August of this year. This project will increase overall seating capacity, improve overall efficiency for ground-loaded aircraft with dedicated boarding gates, expand concession choices for our customers and improve the overall comfort level.
2019 should see the continued expansion of the ultra-low cost carriers as they secure financing and start-up operations. Victoria is well poised for this type of service, with a large post-secondary student population, a desirable year-round tourist destination, a low unemployment rate and a demographic with a propensity to travel.
2019 promises to be another exciting year for our airport as we continue to grow, stay focused on making the customer experience easy, and always keeping our costs low for the airlines.
From all of us at Victoria International Airport, we look forward to serving you.
President and CEO
Victoria Airport Authority