Air Carrier Operations in Canada Quarterly Survey

Detailed information for fourth quarter 2016





Record number:


This survey collects financial and operational data from the Canadian Level I and II air carriers.

Data release - July 26, 2017


This survey collects financial and operational data from the Canadian Level I and II air carriers. The data are used by Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency for measuring the growth and the performance of the airline industry. The information is also used by Statistics Canada as input to the Canadian System of National Accounts and by individual carriers for measuring company performance relative to their competitors. The information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP). The IBSP program has been designed to integrate approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The IBSP aims at collecting industry and product detail at the provincial level while minimizing overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure and content.

The integrated approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts. The combined results produce more coherent and accurate statistics on the economy.

This statistical activity is part of a set of surveys measuring various aspects of activities related to the movement of people and goods. These surveys are grouped as follows:

Transportation by air includes records related to the movement of aircraft, passengers and cargo by air for both Canadian and foreign air carriers operating in Canada as well as the financial and operating characteristics of Canadian air carriers. These data are produced by the Aviation Statistics Centre.

Transportation by rail includes records relating to rail transportation in Canada and between the United States and Canada.

Transportation by road includes records relating to all road transport in Canada. In addition to surveying carriers and owners of registered motor vehicles, certain programs rely on aggregation of provincial and territorial administrative records.

Reference period: Quarter

Collection period: The day that is 60 days after the reporting period


  • Transportation
  • Transportation by air

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The universe of the Quarterly Civil Aviation Survey consists of Canadian licensed carriers classified into levels I and II. These carriers are licensed to perform commercial scheduled and/or charter transportation of passengers and/or goods. Level I includes every Canadian air carrier that, in the calendar year before the year in which information is provided, transported at least 2 million revenue passengers or at least 400,000 tons of cargo. Level II includes every Canadian air carrier that, in the calendar year before the year in which information is provided, transported at least 100,000 but fewer than 2 million revenue passengers or at least 50,000 but less than 400,000 tonnes of cargo.

Instrument design

The survey questionnaires comprise financial characteristics such as sources of revenue, expense detail and employment characteristics. Based on contacts with respondents and data users, some modifications have been incorporated into the questionnaires in order to reflect the nature of the industry surveyed. The changes were field tested to ensure that they were reasonable and sustainable.


This survey is a census.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Statistical data are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act and the Canada Transportation Act. No commercial air service may be operated in Canada without a valid licence issued by the Transportation Agency and every air carrier is required to file regular statistical reports on its operations. For purposes of statistical reporting, Canadian air carriers are classified into six reporting levels. The statistical reports are completed by the air carriers at their head office or by accounting firms hired to compile the data on their behalf. The completed statements are mailed to the Aviation Statistics Centre where they are examined for completeness and reasonableness. In cases of incomplete or questionable data, the Aviation Statistics Centre contacts the air carrier by telephone or in writing to obtain missing data, corrections or explanations.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Upon receipt of the participating carriers' completed questionnaires, the data are edited. The edits are performed to check the quality and legitimacy of the information provided. Air carriers must file their data in accordance with the reporting procedures prepared by the Aviation Statistics Centre.


The dissemination of timely data necessitates the development of estimates for missing data. Such estimates are made at the level of the individual air carrier on the basis of observed performance under similar operating conditions. The financial data filed by air carriers during the year are subject to revision when their auditors prepare the annual statements. Thus, from time to time, air carriers notify the Aviation Statistics Centre of revisions to be made to previously submitted data.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

The evaluation of the quality of the Quarterly Civil Aviation Survey Statistics includes the comparison with results of other Civil Aviation surveys conducted in Aviation Statistics Centre. For each carrier, number of passengers, available seats, volume of goods carried, total revenue and expenses are compared to comparable statistics collected from the Civil Aviation Monthly (Survey #5026)and Annual (Survey #2713) surveys. The evaluation of data quality also includes systematic cross-references to other surveys conducted in Aviation Statistics Centre as well as to financial and operating information made available publicly by the air carriers.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Data for a specific industry or variable may be suppressed (along with that of a second industry or variable) if the number of enterprises in the population is too low.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Quarterly estimates are provided for the most current quarter available. The data for the previous quarter are revised if necessary. Seasonal adjustments are not made to the data.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error. These errors can be broken down into two major types: non-sampling and sampling. Since the survey is a census of the target population, only non-sampling errors are possible.

Non-sampling errors may occur for many reasons. For example, non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. Population coverage, differences in the interpretation of questions, incorrect information from respondents, and mistakes in recording, coding and processing data are other examples of non-sampling errors.

Non-sampling errors are controlled through a careful design of the questionnaire, the use of a minimal number of simple concepts and consistency checks. Coverage error was minimized by using multiple sources to update the frame. Measures such as response rates are used as indicators of the possible extent of non-sampling errors.

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