Welcome to the inaugural edition of Craig’s Corner. In this monthly post, I’ll share my thoughts and opinions on the business of Vancouver International Airport - and probably some other stuff, too.
It’s amazing that before my first month in the job is up I will have had the chance to join in a warm YVR welcome for China Eastern Airlines’ second daily flight, which kicks off on July 20. (See photo from today's news conference.)
It’s exactly this kind of news we love to celebrate, because it means we’re doing our job to offer customers and our community more travel options, more economic investment and more jobs.
It’s also our job to keep encouraging this growth. For some airlines, it will mean adding a new route – like Lufthansa’s new YVR –Munich flight - adding another frequency - like China Eastern Airlines will do this summer -or upgauging aircraft to maximize the number of passengers per flight. When it comes to growing our Asian market, we’re doing quite well. With these service increases, YVR now offers 75 weekly flights to mainland China and Hong Kong – more than any other airport in North America.
All of this activity is often referred to in the business as “building the gateway,” which you’ve probably heard in airport or transportation context before. Technical jargon aside, a gateway is a hub airport, which airlines can connect to and through to other markets, where passengers of all kinds benefit from more options for travel, trade and jobs.
It means that cherries grown in Summerland can reach customers in Guangzhou, a local college can court international students, a B.C. family can travel directly to China’s interior or to Southern Germany to visit relatives and a Richmond resident can join the 24,000 people working at YVR and get a good-paying job working in a cool industry.
The airport business gets more and more competitive every year. It’s no longer a given that YVR is the number one gateway connecting the Americas to the Asia-Pacific. Now, we count airports including Calgary and Chicago as competitors, thanks to more efficient aircraft, more direct routes and a growing population of global travellers. More than 40 years ago, aircraft technology meant that planes had to stop in Gander, Newfoundland or Shannon, Ireland, to refuel. That’s no longer the case.
So what advantages does YVR offer? For one, our network of 89 (and counting) non-stop destinations means that international travellers have more options for onward connections once they arrive at YVR. We also have the space to accommodate the larger, more efficient aircraft of the future. One day soon, we’ll welcome Boeing 787s and Airbus A380s to our airport, and we’ve got the large gates, double bridges and runway capacity to handle them easily. It also helps that YVR ranked first in Skytrax’ Best Airports in North America awards for the fourth year running, thanks to a passenger-friendly facility, award-winning customer service and some of the best shopping, dining and ambience of any global airport.
Airports that have mastered the gateway? Think of Dubai and Abu Dhabi International Airports, whose leaders decided some 30 years ago to become mega hubs, connecting passengers to and through their airports from Europe, Asia and beyond. Airports in Asia also do the gateway well, particularly because they can connect international travellers through to their major domestic networks. As we build our own gateway here at home, we’ll keep an eye on these examples and set some audacious goals of our own.
I’m very interested to hear what you think. What do you want to learn more about? Leave a comment or question here, or send our Communications team an email. Thanks for your support.
*Note: For those of you aviation buffs who know my background, I like to think that the title of my column refers to “corner velocity:” the minimum speed at which a fighter can pull the most G’s – the tightest sustainable turn. Or, on the other hand, it may just refer to the geographical location of my desk. You decide.