We were able to announce some very good news in April—the kind that we hope to see more of in the years to come. China Southern will be making its debut into Vancouver in June and providing non-stop service between YVR and Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton), China, three times a week. This is the only direct, non-stop service to the capital of Guangdong province from Canada.
There are a number of reasons why we are pleased to welcome a new carrier with a new route. The first is that it will mean jobs for our community: it’s estimated that this Boeing 777 service will generate 44 person-years of employment, $2.2 million in wages, and contribute $3.5 million to British Columbia’s gross domestic product (GDP) annually.
The launching of new Asian routes is also an important element in our gateway strategy, which will be a major focus for us over the years to come. Twenty years ago, YVR had some clear advantages in the gateway business: we were, and still are, the closest major West Coast airport to Asia and we have a long history of business and family ties with the Asia Pacific region. Technology was in our favour too—airplanes could only fly so far along the great circle routes. Back then, our competition was largely other West Coast gateways such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
Today the competitive landscape has changed dramatically. Planes can fly further, and while long-range aircraft can reach more destinations from Vancouver, the other side of that coin is that they can also reach more destinations from competing airports. Advances in air navigation technology also allow aircraft to fly by new, shorter polar routes.
These changes mean that our West Coast location is not the advantage it once was—airlines can serve Asian destinations non-stop from locations in Eastern Canada and the U.S. So how do we continue to thrive and be a strong economic generator for B.C.? We have frozen our landing and terminal fees at 2010 rates for airlines; we continue to lobby governments for more liberal air policies and tax regimes; and we have set an objective of reducing connection time for passengers from 90 minutes to 60 minutes.
As we welcome China Southern and look to the next 80 years of being a West Coast gateway, you will notice us making improvements at YVR to encourage more Asian carriers and routes, which will in turn benefit our local communities.