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Craig's Corner, August 2013: YVR 101

To get up to speed on the business of YVR, I pulled out an old trick learned during my time with Vantage Airports: the departmental briefing. After giving people some time to get ready, we started two weeks ago and I’ve already met with seven teams. The briefings have been terrific. Over the course of two hours, I get a chance to get caught up on the mission, numbers and issues of each department, while the teams get a chance to showcase their great work to the boss. The meetings always wrap up with “Dragon’s Den, “YVR-style, where teams pitch a new idea to the CEO. I’ve heard 15 great new ideas so far, and I expect a lot more.

These presentations have reawakened in me an appreciation of the complexity and interconnected nature of this modern, busy international airport. The Airport Authority sits at the centre of a team of about 24,000 people who make the airport work every day, and it's quite an effort. A lot has to happen to keep people and planes moving to and through YVR. Check out these fast facts:

• YVR welcomed 17.6 million passengers in 2012, more than the entire population of Holland (16.5 million).

• More than 23,600 people come to work on YVR’s Sea Island home every day. And because population comparisons are fun, that’s the population of Powell River, or twice the population of Terrace (a B.C. destination that’s served by 54 weekly flights out of YVR, by the way).

• YVR’s Main Terminal is the largest building in British Columbia, at approximately 300,000 square metres or 3.3 million square feet. That’s a space large enough to accommodate almost eight BC Place Stadiums or 205 NHL hockey arenas.

• But this is not just a venue or a warehouse. Along with standard equipment like two-stage fire alarms, YVR has a sophisticated security system, motion-activated escalators and moving walkways, jet bridges, seating for thousands in about 70 gate areas, commercial kitchens, boiler rooms, loading bays, dozens of elevators and kilometres’ worth of baggage belts. Maintaining, cleaning, inspecting and staffing this facility takes a lot of skill and sweat.

• YVR’s Customer Care and Green Coat Volunteer teams fielded a whopping 778,000 customer enquiries in 2012, or an average of 88 every hour. That’s a lot of directions.

• We all know that nothing happens without keeping track of the money: one of the Excel spreadsheet models used in our Finance department contains at least 100,000 cells.

• In 2012, we recycled 125 million kilograms of waste produced at YVR, the equivalent weight of seven Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Of that 125 million, 630,000 kilograms was paper towel from our washrooms.

• We’ve got coffee lovers covered at YVR, with six Starbucks and six Tim Hortons locations throughout the airport. Together, they pour about 9,104 cups of coffee each day. That’s roughly one cup every 10 seconds.

• In keeping with my favourite theme of flight, a hive of productive honeybees also call Sea Island home. On the shores of McDonald Beach reside more than one million bees, producing a uniquely spicy honey with hints of cinnamon and apple exclusively for the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel’s cuisine.

Still to come are about 30 hours’ worth of departmental briefings, from teams as varied as Environment, Maintenance and Aviation Marketing. It's vital education for my new role as CEO, but it's also a fascinating and personal view behind the scenes at B.C.'s gateway airport. Thanks to all presenters for your contribution to my YVR 101 curriculum.

Travel safely.



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  • Kim Low wrote on Aug 17 2013 AT 4:51 PM

    I don't know who I should refer this to.  We have noticed a lot of airplanes flying across residential area in south Richmond.  Every 3 minutes there is a plane flying across my our residential area.   The plane has just taken off from the airport and it is still at a low attitude therefore the sound of the plane is loud.  I noticed this since Aug 1, 2013.  However today Aug 17, 2013, it became very untolerable because every 3 mins there is a plane flying across my house.  What is going on?  Can somebody explain.  Thank you
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