There is no doubt that 2011 was a very busy year for Vancouver International Airport. The celebrations around our 80th anniversary were a reminder that we have been a key driver of growth in the region since 1931, and we are always working to build better connections between BC and the rest of the world.
In our community, we continued the popular Future Lands Here tour program for Grade 5 students and opened our doors to the general public for our 80th anniversary celebrations. We also gave the curious a look behind the scenes at YVR through the personable lens of Jaeger Mah, our live-in correspondent who called YVR home for 80 days. On the environmental front, the Ground Run-up Enclosure (GRE) is nearing completion at Airport South and will reduce aircraft engine testing noise by up to 50 per cent for our neighbours in Richmond. And last but not least, our continued strong partnership with Quest Food Exchange brings together the airport community to donate food, time and effort and divert foodstuffs from the landfill.
Building more non-stop direct flights to international destinations was core to our business this past year. We welcomed China Southern to YVR to offer a new passenger route to Guangzhou as well as an all-cargo route to Shanghai. In addition, Virgin Atlantic announced its new service to London Heathrow commencing in May 2012 and Sichuan Airlines signed a letter of intent to bring service from Chengdu and Shenyang in China to Vancouver in the new year.
Perhaps most important of all, the more than 23,000 people who work at YVR and the Green Coats who volunteer here continue to deliver an exceptional customer experience to the 40,000 passengers who travel through our airport every day. Thanks to them, we were voted #1 airport in North America for the second year in a row. This is not an accolade that we take lightly: in 2012 we will continue to work hard to build an airport that B.C. can be proud of.
On behalf of Vancouver Airport Authority and YVR, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.