Famous aviator Charles Lindbergh’s comment that Vancouver “had no fit field to land on” spurred civic leaders to build a new airport. Construction began in 1930 on a single, 730-metre runway and small wood-frame administration building with a control tower on Sea Island in Richmond.
The Second World War marked a period of expansion for the airport and in 1940 the City of Vancouver leased the airport to the Federal Government. New facilities included hangars, a Royal Canadian Air Force base and barracks, gun emplacements and a major aircraft manufacturing plant for the Boeing Airplane Company.
Following the fire that destroyed the terminal in 1949, Vancouver International Airport’s new terminal opened in 1950. The airport continued to grow and welcome more passengers throughout the 1950s, including special guests like Marilyn Monroe posing for a photo atop a lift truck.
Photo Credit: Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver International Airport’s new super-jet terminal opened to great fanfare in 1968. The $32-million building featured gates that allowed aircraft to park at the terminal, providing passengers the ability to load and unload via modern bridges.
While Vancouver International Airport’s major domestic and international carriers were operating larger aircraft out of the main terminal, growth continued at Airport South with the expansion of floatplane, private aircraft and charter services.
The 1980s saw significant expansion in international air service at Vancouver International Airport. In 1989, YVR launched its successful Green Coat Volunteer Program which recruits volunteers to assist passengers in the terminal. The program continues today with more than 400 volunteers offering a friendly face and information for travellers.
In 1992, YVR became one of the first four airports in Canada to transfer from Federal Government control to administration by a local, community-based, not-for-profit organization. Vancouver Airport Authority officially assumed management and operation of YVR on July 1.
The unprecedented closure of North American airspace following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States led to the diversion of 34 U.S.-bound wide-bodied aircraft carrying a combined 8,500 passengers to YVR. In 2009, YVR became the first Canadian airport to offer rapid transit to its downtown core when the Canada Line opened.
Vancouver International Airport provided the first impression and final memory of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. YVR’s people, processes and facilities delivered a gold medal airport experience to the more than 1.3 million visitors who travelled through the airport during the Games.
Canada’s second busiest airport, Vancouver International Airport connected 17 million passengers to more than 100 destinations worldwide in 2011. We are committed to creating an airport that British Columbia can be proud of today and in the future: a premier global gateway, local economic generator and community contributor.