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Perspectives: Moving Essential Goods and Connecting Economies with Manager of Commercial Leasing - Cargo, Jason Tse

As the worldwide pandemic has shown, the movement of goods is not just a vital economic driver for airports and airlines but is also an essential service that brings in crucial supplies. At YVR, our cargo business continues to be a bright spot, supporting the airport in the face of unprecedented passenger declines while also supporting our communities with valuable medical equipment and facilitating the movement of BC exports.  

Jason Tse is Vancouver Airport Authority’s Manager of Commercial Leasing – Cargo. He oversees a wide-ranging portfolio that keeps track of global cargo movement trends and works to make YVR a hub for the interconnected cargo industry.

“With YVR being selected as one of the four Canadian airports accepting international flights during COVID-19, cargo movements skyrocketed in April and May as countries worked hard to bring in critical PPE [personal protective equipment] and medical supplies,” says Tse. “Between March and July, we saw close to a 30% increase in cargo-only operations, peaking out in May when we saw almost 240 additional cargo-only departures.

While the dramatic increase in cargo was unexpected, YVR’s focus on enhancing cargo operations and better supporting partners ensured the airport was well-positioned to handle the additional activity.

“Cargo operations are incredibly integrated. Airports like YVR need to support airlines and key supporting players through infrastructure and capacity improvements to help them get their goods off the aircraft and distributed fast,” explains Tse. “

While the urgency for PPE has diminished, the overall cargo environment remains strong as stores re-open and consumer good inventories replenish. “The pandemic has had an impact on consumer behavior with online purchasing behavior increasing significantly,” adds Tse. “While e-commerce spending may regress somewhat after COVID-19, we have likely seen a permanent shift in behaviour which will be beneficial to integrators such as Fedex, UPS, DHL, Purolator and their supporting partners like Cargojet and Morningstar.”

Looking ahead, the cargo environment is well-poised to support YVR’s overall recovery efforts. The Airport Authority’s recently refreshed Cargo Strategy focuses on working with companies and partners to better support exports, whether that’s new infrastructure, supporting air cargo eligible industries, or developing new markets for B.C. exports like utilizing new free trade agreements for Southeast Asia.

“To keep B.C.’s economy growing, we want companies to incubate here and that means providing a fast, reliable cargo transportation hub at YVR,” notes Tse. “I think this pandemic has shown how important it is to have an integrated network to import and export vital goods—not just for YVR, but for the entire region that includes Western Canada and the US West Coast. And with new infrastructure projects coming online and adding new cargo flights, we’re working hard so our partners can deliver a range of products—from crab and cherries to supermarkets in Asia, or stem-cell products for medical research at institutions around the world.”

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