Total passengers carried by Air Canada to and from the nation's capital decreased in 2011, "primarily in flights to domestic destinations," according to the Ottawa International Airport Authority's annual report.
Meanwhile, WestJet's overall Ottawa passenger numbers grew, "with (a) significant increase in volumes to domestic destinations." Likewise, "Porter's 2011 domestic volumes for Ottawa continued to increase very strongly."
Detailed figures were not provided in the report.
Seat volumes followed the same trend, as Air Canada decreased its capacity across all markets, while Porter and WestJet both bolstered their numbers, according to the airport authority.
Competition among the three airlines has been particularly strong on the busy Ottawa-Toronto corridor in recent years. The addition of two daily flights in 2011 by WestJet brought the total to nearly 50 trips each day in high season between Ontario's two largest cities.
Passengers have benefited from this competition, with base fares falling by more than one-quarter over the past two years.
The airport's annual report also suggested Air Canada - which recently booked a $210 million first-quarter loss - was largely responsible for the stagnation of the overall number of international travellers using the local airport in 2011, despite the addition of new flights to Mexico and the Dominican Republic by discount carriers Sunwing and Air Transat.
"Air Canada reduced capacity on its Ottawa-Heathrow flights and more passengers were routed through domestic locations like Toronto," the report said.
The airport is projecting international passenger volumes will increase 5.02 per cent between 2011 and 2015, which would outpace growth in the domestic and U.S. segments.
In a speech, outgoing airport authority president and CEO Paul Benoit put particular emphasis on the increasing popularity of charter flights to the Caribbean and regular service to destinations such as Las Vegas.
"Ottawa-Gatineau has a growing appetite for leisure travel and sunshine destinations, which is being recognized and addressed by our carriers," he said.
The Ottawa Airport ... by the numbers
4.62 million - Number of passengers in 2011, an increase of 3.37%
4.81 million - Number of passengers forecast for 2012, an increase of 4.11%
123 - Number of daily non-stop domestic and U.S. flights in 2011, up from 116
22 - Number of weekly non-stop international flights in 2011, up from 17
$103.06 million - Revenues in 2011, up 14.86%
$20 - Airport improvement fee paid by departing passengers as of Feb. 1, 2011, up from $15
36.6 - Percentage of overall revenues coming from airport improvement fees
$75.17 million - Expenses in 2011, up 4.07%
$344.79 million - Long-term debt
OBJ recently published a closer look at the Ottawa airport's growth and what it means for future expansion projects.