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The Edmonton and Calgary aviation markets - A tale of two more cities


Aviation passenger traffic in Calgary and Edmonton were roughly equal in 1963 but the Calgary market has grown much larger than that of Edmonton. Reasons for growth in these two aviation markets often returned to the debate over a divided aviation market as the result of two airports (Edmonton) versus one at their major competitor (Calgary). It was often suggested that if flights could be consolidated into one airport, «market share» would cease to be lost to the competing airport.

Major socio-economic variables used in airport passenger forecasting are examined to see if they help to explain the different growth patterns. Population does not appear to explain the differences. Income may be one explanatory factor, with the larger concentration of higher incomes in Calgary. The immigrant population of Calgary has grown faster in the last decade and net migration to Calgary from elsewhere in Canada has been higher--both could stimulate travel. With respect to economic activity stimulating aviation, Calgary has recently led Edmonton in the value of building permits, full-time employment and head office employment. While the socio-economic variables have favoured Calgary, especially in recent years, the decline of Edmonton's passenger aviation traffic, relative to Calgary, has slowed. This has occurred after the moving of most commercial aviation passenger flights from Edmonton City Centre airport to Edmonton International airport. This may support the position that Edmonton was losing aviation passenger traffic to Calgary before the consolidation of commercial aviation flights at Edmonton international airport.

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