Last year was a record-breaker for traffic at Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport, but don’t expect 2009 to top it.


The airport authority expects that because of the slumping economy, passenger numbers will drop 2.1 per cent in 2009 from its all-time record of 3.58 million in 2008. That means about 75,000 fewer passengers — largely international ones.


But spokesman Peter Spurway said it’s likely the airport will still break even, even with passenger numbers going down, because of increased revenues from a $5 hike in airport improvement fees in March and the new airport parking garage, slated to open this spring.


“Obviously, we’d like to go up three or four per cent. But if that doesn’t happen, it won’t predicate a loss in 2009,” Spurway said.


“We have a history of recovering faster than other airports — after 9-11, after Canada 3000 went under.”

He said the airport’s first two quarters of 2008 were very strong, but when things started to slump in midsummer, staff cut back on discretionary spending to ensure it could keep the budget balanced.

He said the airport is aggressively marketing itself to airlines in the hopes that Parliament will sign off on a European blue-skies agreement sometime this year. That would allow airlines that currently stop in Halifax simply to refuel on their way somewhere else, to drop off and pick up passengers here.