Quarterly Civil Aviation Survey

Detailed information for first quarter 2023





Record number:


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

Data release - August 21, 2023


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 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


  • Financial statements and performance
  • Transportation
  • Transportation by air
  • Travel and tourism

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 questionnaire collects information on operating statistics (passengers, passenger-kilometres, hours flown for scheduled and charter services) and financial statistics (operating revenue, operating expenses, net income (loss), employment and fuel expenses). An electronic questionnaire (EQ) was introduced with the First quarter 2017 reference period. The content of the quarterly survey was reduced with the introduction of the EQ. In 2015, the proposed changes were reviewed by external (i.e. Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency) and internal (i.e. System of National Accounts, Industrial Organization and Finance Division) stakeholders. In 2016, Statistics Canada conducted a field test with respondents.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done. The carrier level and its main aviation activity are maintained on the Business Register for all Canadian licensed air companies. These specific fields are used to select carriers for each survey and to group them by homogeneous cells. Since the survey is a census, no sampling is done. So all units are selected with certainty. The final sample size is less than 30 companies.

Enterprises as a cluster of companies. So the company is the statistical unit, and the enterprise (as a cluster of companies) is the sampling unit.

Sampling strata are created using activity code (6 digits NAICS) and carrier level.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents using an electronic or paper questionnaire.

For this survey, data come from collection only.

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

Error detection

A lot of rules have been incorporated to the electronic questionnaire to make sure the submitted data are consistent. Inconsistencies will be corrected during the edit and imputation process. Other inconsistent data can be identified and corrected manually, after verification with the respondent.


Various manual methods for imputation, such as donor imputation, ratio analysis and trend analysis are utilized.


The survey uses the Generalized Estimation System (G-Est) developed at Statistics Canada to produce its domain estimates and quality indicators. It is a SAS based application for producing estimates for domains of a population based on a sample and auxiliary information. Estimates are computed at several levels of interest, based on the most recent classification information for the statistical entity and the survey reference period.

Population totals and population ratios of totals are calculated, as well as breakdowns by carrier level.

Quality evaluation

The Aviation Statistics Centre of Statistics Canada examines the data, verifies the results, does coherence analysis, studies changes across cycles, and compares the results with other sources/surveys.

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

Estimates are provided for the reference quarter and the previous four reference quarters are revised if necessary. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

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.

The response rate for this survey is 70%.

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