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Craig's Corner: Building a World-Class, Sustainable Hub

Vancouver Airport Authority recently held its 2014 Annual Public Meeting, where we got a chance to review all the amazing things that happened at YVR last year. I hope some of you had a chance to attend as we went over what was an incredible year at the airport, highlighted by our sixth consecutive win for Best Airport in North America at the Skytrax World Airport Awards. We also donated more than $900,000 to 76 community partners and processed a record-setting 19.4 million passengers at YVR. In short, 2014 was a big year. 

In 2014 we developed a new Strategic Plan. As a foundation for YVR’s objectives and initiatives, the Strategic Plan provides the fundamental direction for the organization for the future. This new five year plan can be summed up in two words—grow sustainably. Our plan states that we are aiming to grow to 25 million passengers by 2020. Why is this exciting? Because the five million extra passengers we plan to add by 2020 will result in 5,000-7,000 new jobs in BC and up to $500 million in additional GDP to the BC economy. 

In addition to our ambitious aeronautical targets, we are always looking for innovative ways to generate non-aeronautical revenue, which helps run the airport and keep costs low. In January 2014, we broke ground for the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Centre Vancouver Airport—BC’s first luxury shopping centre. Phase 1 will feature 600 brand new jobs, with an additional 400 in Phase 2. And I’m thrilled to report that you will be shopping at the Designer Outlet Centre by July 15, 2015—enjoying year-round savings of up to 70%.

We are looking well beyond the opening in July, and even past 2020 as we plan and prepare for not just the future of YVR, but the future of B.C., Richmond and the entire airport community. 

Last month we launched our newest Master Plan consultation called YVR 2057 and to connect with you, our community and stakeholders, we have launched YVR 2057’s website and activation. I hope you get a chance to visit the site, www.yvr2057.ca, or visit the activation at one of the many community festivals our team will be at this summer, and really get involved in the future of YVR. So Master Plan consultation is underway, and while we get your valuable input, we will continue aiming for the targets and goals in our Strategic Plan. This Plan envisions YVR as a gateway between Asia and the Americas. It also emphasizes our commitment to sustainability—a key objective noted by stakeholders ten years ago. 

To be a leader in sustainability, YVR must continue to strive for excellence under our four pillars: economic, environment, social and governance. But being sustainable also means remaining competitive. And staying competitive for YVR means becoming a true international connecting hub, flowing people and cargo across the world. To achieve this, we’re working on new transit connections and processes—such as full International Transit Without Visa. Transit without Visa means that passengers aboard international flights that connect through YVR en route to another international destination don’t need Canadian visas.

The best way to get people to understand what it is and why we want it is to point out the many places you have probably already seen this in action, without thinking about it, like Heathrow, Schiphol, Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong. These are transit hubs, facilitating easy movement of people and goods. You see people arrive from all sorts of countries, have a bite to eat, shop a bit and then head out to other countries—never having technically set foot in the country through which they are transiting. That’s it. The regulatory details are very complex, and are taking some time to finalize, but the results are fantastic—commerce and leisure both benefit hugely in the cities in which this occurs.

It opens new markets for everyone—whether it’s businesses selling BC spot prawns to restaurants in Sao Paulo, international students coming to our universities, or business people from Shanghai and Vancouver meeting in Mexico City. With expanded Transit without Visa in place, in a few years we could easily add 10 new destinations into the US, Central and South America.

Speaking of Visa programs, the Government of Canada recently announced the expansion of the China Transit Program. This expanded China Transit Program allows Chinese nationals to transit through approved Canadian airports, like YVR, en route to the U.S. without needing a Canadian visa. Essentially this means more passengers in our airport, which translates to more dollars for the local economy and more jobs. And we like that.

As always, safe travels.

Craig

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