If you have visited YVR regularly for the past decade, you have witnessed a remarkable story. Since 2009, we have added over 40 new routes, 12 new airlines and almost 10 million passengers—an incredible feat. But, as we all know, nothing lasts forever so the question is how do we continue to keep up with growth while also maintaining the flexibility to operate in a range of economic conditions?
The answer lies in our unique operating model. As a community-based, not-for-profit organization YVR operates in the best interests of the region. We have no shareholders, we receive no money from the government to run the airport and we constantly reinvest our profits back into YVR, improving it for everyone. In other words, we are your airport.
Because we are financially independent, we have to be innovative in how we make money, spreading risk by diversifying revenue streams. We have three main sources of income: aeronautical revenue, non-aeronautical revenue (e.g. parking fees, tenant rents, sales of our BORDERXPRESS kiosks) and our Airport Improvement Fee, which is among the lowest in Canada and is only used to fund capital projects. In addition, we take a conservative approach to debt, having maintained a AA credit rating—one of the best in the world for an airport—for 14 years.
Our unique model forces us to be accountable in how we spend money, and we see this in our strategic approach to growth. For instance, we recently announced a 20-year expansion program, with up to 75 projects that will transform the airport for everyone. And we have planned many of these projects to be incremental. This means we can build one at a time and not overextend ourselves if a recession were to happen and passenger growth (and thus revenues) dropped.
A great example is our new international pier expansion, which will provide an additional eight wide body aircraft gates when it opens next summer. We have several other piers that will need to be expanded as we grow, but we will start with this one—rather than start all of them at once due to persistent growth pressure, which is more common in a shareholder-based model.
And thanks to our unique model, our employees are free to constantly innovate, coming up with better ways to serve our passengers, partners and communities. We seek to reduce fees, lower costs and attract business. We focus on efficiency, making the airport more attractive to passengers and keeping us ahead of the competition. And we constantly strengthen our community connections, through environmental programs, community investment and much more.
That’s what sustainability means to us: striking a balance between meeting the demands of growth while ensuring the long-term success of our airport as an economic generator and community contributor.