Demographics, gold prices affect air traffic

Press Release

As Thunder Bay’s International Airport reports on record passenger numbers in 2017, the Northern Policy Institute’s latest commentary, “Taking Off: Factors Impacting Thunder Bay’s Air Traffic,” reveals several indicators that correlate with flight demand in recent years.
Author Curtis McKnight examined three main factors, including the price of gold, demographics, and post-secondary enrolment.
McKnight discovered that as gold prices increase, air traffic does, too.
A possible explanation is that as gold prices rise, there are more employment opportunities in the mining sector throughout Thunder Bay, prompting workers to travel from different areas.
The report also revealed that an increase in Thunder Bay’s overall population has not meant more air traffic, although research does suggest that as Thunder Bay’s population ages, total air traffic increases.
“For the Thunder Bay population aged 40-69, there appears to be a positive relationship with total Thunder Bay air traffic since 1996,” McKnight noted.
“People in this demographic have generally developed careers,” he explained. “Therefore, increased work travel opportunities and more disposable income are a few reasons why people in this age range would be positively correlated with air traffic.”
Lastly, it was found that as enrolment at Lakehead University increases, especially from students living outside of Northwestern Ontario, so do the amount of flights arriving to and departing from the airport.
“As communities in Northern Ontario experience economic, social, and demographic shifts, airports like the TBIA also experience shifts in air traffic patterns,” said NPI president and CEO Charles Cirtwill.
“NPI was happy to present these findings to the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority board of directors, as they continue to plan for the future growth of the TBIA,” he added.
To read the full paper, visit