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Hamilton airport saw passenger traffic plummet while cargo soared in 2020

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Hamilton airport saw passenger traffic plummet while cargo soared in 2020

The John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport is reporting that while passenger travel plummeted in 2020, it saw a massive increase in the amount of cargo that passed through the facility.

In a newsletter sent out Monday (Feb. 1), the airport said that 2020 started off as one of its busiest for passenger travel and was on track to be a record-breaking year.

With the arrival of the pandemic, passenger traffic took a nosedive, and 2020 closed out with a total of 329,192 passengers having travel to/from Hamilton International (HI). This, according to the newsletter, represents a 66 per cent decrease.

In 2019, there were 955,373 passengers who travelled through HI in 2019, which when it was reported this time last year, represented a 32 per cent growth over 2018, 60 per cent over 2017 and 187 per cent over 2016 — almost triple the passenger activity from four years ago.

While passenger traffic hit a new low, cargo activity at the airport soared with the development of new facilities, the demand for supplies in the battle against COVID-19, as well as a worldwide pivot to online shopping trends, drove the movement of goods across the globe.

“In 2020, 658 million kilograms in total cargo aircraft billable landed aircraft weight was facilitated through Hamilton International, representing a 24 per cent increase compared to the previous year,” the newsletter outlined.

Among some of the goods to have passed through Hamilton last year are the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada in December.

HI’s cargo capacity looks like it will only increase in the years to come, as the expected completion of DHL Express’ gateway facility expansion and the Amazon fulfilment centre later this year will further ramp up the airport’s cargo capacity.

Additionally, the airport was designated as a Federal Trade Zone (FTZ) in November.

The designation allows for businesses that import and export goods or manufacture products in Hamilton will benefit from duty deferrals and tax exemptions.

“Hamilton is already a multimodal hub, with a thriving cargo port and airport, and strategically located in close proximity to 400-series highways, the U.S. border, and the Greater Toronto Area,” a news release said.

“As Canada recovers from the effects of the pandemic, helping local businesses and strengthening supply chains will be of key importance.”

So while cargo continues to flow through HI, when it is safe to do so, again, the airport says its focus will shift to bringing passenger numbers back up.

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