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Celebrating 92 years of aviation excellence

July 22 is a special day for us—it is the day we opened our doors as the gateway from B.C. to the world. And this year, we are 92 years young. In 1931 our airport was a single runway, a small wood-framed two-story administration building, two concrete hangars, a floatplane harbour, and a control tower. In fact, this building, with many renovations and enhancements since, is now our South Terminal.

Today, we proudly stand as Canada's second busiest airport and a trailblazer in the global aviation industry. Known for our commitment to innovation, steady growth, and representation of the very essence of our region, we are dedicated to serving our community and the economy that supports it.

As we reflect on 92 years of extraordinary history and entrepreneurial spirit, we see many accomplishments worth recognizing together with our community, employees, and partners. From expansions of our terminals to noteworthy environmental achievements, from the launch of new routes to invaluable community partnerships, we are thrilled to share a handful of our most memorable moments.

Memorable moments:

1931 - The opening of Sea Island Airport and Seaplane Harbour on July 22, 1931, was a celebration complete with an air show, four-day open house, and an attendance of 55,000 people. The runway was 2,350 feet long and the airport's two hangars could hold 12 large planes or 30 small aircraft with wings folded!

1937 - Trans-Canada Airlines, now Air Canada, launched service to Vancouver. New destinations served by the airline out of Vancouver included Prince George, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Whitehorse, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montréal.

1947- The City of Vancouver resumed control of Vancouver Airport. 16 years after opening, with the addition of scheduled international air service to and from Vancouver, the airport's name officially changed to what it is known as today: Vancouver International Airport.

1968 - A new international terminal opened. It served 1.9 million passengers in its first year. The expansion prompted new carriers, new routes and increased frequencies, including Japan Airlines as the first Asian-based carrier to operate at YVR. Comparatively in 2019 our international and U.S. terminals served 13.7 million passengers.

1992 - Between 1992 and 1996, the airport's new $250 million International Terminal was built by the Airport Authority. A portion of the old Domestic Terminal was demolished to make room for the new facility.

1993 - In December 1993, YVR served 10 million passengers in one year for the first time. By 2010, YVR served more than 16 million passengers and by 2019, the airport served nearly 27 million passengers.

1996 - On a leap day in 1996 a new airline partner- WestJet-landed at YVR for the first time. Vancouver was among WestJet's five original destinations when it launched service on February 29,1996.

2003 - We made it to the top! YVR was named the Best Airport in North America by Skytrax World Airport Awards for the very first time. In 2009, we'd be recognized again for 11 years in a row until present day.

2015 -New high score! We welcomed the airport's 20 millionth annual passenger in December of 2015.

2017 - YVR signed the historic Musqueam Indian Band - YVR Airport Sustainability and Friendship Agreement. It's a 30-year agreement meant to achieve a sustainable and mutually beneficial future for our community.

2020 – In March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel to a near halt. By April 18, 2020, we were welcoming approximately 1,500 travellers per day, the least amount of daily passengers in recent decades, comparatively, an average day in 2019 saw approximately 75,000 passengers a day.

2021 - Pier D complete! Despite the challenges of the pandemic, YVR remained operational, serving our community and advancing important work in the terminal, including opening our newly expanded International Terminal. It now features eight new gates, a glassed-in forest with access to the outdoors, an immersive digital experience and a yoga, prayer and quiet room. This was a significant project in the history of YVR and our largest expansion since 1996.

2023  We remain focused on the future of YVR and our role as a platform for our community to come together and thrive. We are on track to welcome nearly 7 million travellers from July to September and are leading a number of exciting initiatives that benefit our community and the economy that supports it.

While this celebration affords us the opportunity to reflect on 92 years of remarkable achievements, our true message is one of heartfelt gratitude. We extend our deepest thanks to our community, business partners, and dedicated employees who have played an integral role in shaping the success of YVR. Your unwavering support, invaluable contributions, and ongoing commitment to excellence have propelled us to great heights and allowed us to proudly connect British Columbia to the world. Without you, none of our accomplishments would have been possible.

For the latest travel information, visit yvr.ca or follow the airport on Twitter: @YVRAirport or @YVRAeroport.

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