Another great year for the Airport Authority will soon come to a close. The busy holiday travel season will cap off what has been a very busy year for new routes and services, airport development and community involvement.
Early in the year, the Airport Authority announced a 10-year, $1.8-billion strategy designed to keep YVR competitive and a key economic generator for B.C. With increasing competition from other airports, we identified a number of infrastructure improvements that will make it faster and easier for passengers and bags to move through the airport. Work on these projects, which include new high-speed baggage systems, more moving walkways and upgrades to the original Domestic Terminal Building, got underway this year.
Several important air service announcements in 2012 offered more travel options to YVR passengers looking to connect to Asia and Europe for business and leisure. First, Sichuan Airlines joined the YVR team, offering North America’s first and only direct flight to China’s interior. We also welcomed Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways, marking the first time in a decade that this airline has flown to Canada. Flights between YVR and London Heathrow Airport conveyed thousands of passengers across the Atlantic last summer. Other new partners joined the YVR team in 2012 including World Duty Free, which chose YVR as its first North America airport location and opened with great fanfare in September.
On the community front, the Airport Authority continued to support Quest Food Exchange as its Official Transportation Sponsor. Money raised through campaigns like the Final Boarding Call for Pennies and Christmas Hamper Drive went to help fund access to healthy, affordable food for local families in need.
2012 saw YVR and the Airport Authority garner a number of notable awards. For the third year in a row, Skytrax ranked Vancouver International Airport the number one airport in North America based on passenger feedback. And the commitment to safety and security that underscores all that we do was recognized by Transport Canada with its audit of our Safety Management System, earning us the highest safety score possible. From an environmental perspective, the Airport Authority also received BC Hydro’s PowerSmart Leadership Award, as well as accolades for Canada’s first-ever Ground Run-up Enclosure, which opened on the airport’s south side earlier this year to help reduce aircraft noise in our community.
2013 will also bring a personal and professional milestone for me; in October, I announced my retirement as President and CEO of the Airport Authority. It has been a pleasure to have been a part of this organization over the past 20 years. Seeing the airport’s move from a federally-run entity to a community-based organization focused on the passenger experience has been very gratifying. I look forward to welcoming a new leader in 2013.
While senior leadership may change, our strategy will not. Vancouver Airport Authority continues to strive to create an airport that British Columbia can be proud of: a premier global gateway, local economic generator and community contributor.
Finally, I offer my thanks to the more than 23,000 people who work at YVR, the some 500 Green Coat volunteers who offer assistance every day, and the more than 17 million passengers who chose to travel through YVR this year.
I wish you a happy holiday season and the best in 2013.