VANCOUVER, Jan. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - The Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) announced today that it served more than 327,000 passengers in 2012 - The highest in its history. This new data represents a six per cent increase from 2011 and surpasses YQQ's previous record of 310,450 passengers in 2007 prior to the economic downturn. "We are extremely pleased with our performance in 2012," said YQQ CEO, Fred Bigelow. "We are cautiously optimistic that these statistics represent a full recovery following a severe economic depression that dampened travel trends across the country." YQQ served 327,827 passengers last year, almost 19,000 more than in 2011. The airport's busiest month was August, which saw a total of 38,074 passengers - an increase of about 3,500 passengers over the same month the previous year. While the total average growth rate for North American airports has yet to be reported, Bigelow is confident YQQ will stack up well against similar airports across the country. "We achieved an unprecedented growth of six per cent in 2012; essentially doubling the target outlined in our strategic plan," he explained. "This provides us with great support in our messaging to future business partners that the Comox Valley Airport is an excellent place to do business." While Bigelow cautioned it would be unrealistic to expect growth to continue at such a high rate in subsequent years, he says that YQQ is focusing its efforts in 2013 on obtaining additional air service for the Comox Valley. This will help to ensure passenger numbers continue on an upward trajectory. "A very strong business case exists for an additional sunspot service out of YQQ," Bigelow confirmed. "Our focus for 2013 will be on obtaining a new route to complement our current direct service to Puerto Vallarta Mexico through WestJet." The Comox Valley Airport's strategic plan estimates that YQQ's passenger numbers will continue to grow, reaching as high as 344,125 by 2015.