General aviation

AIRPORTS : YVR hits 25 million passengers two years ahead of schedule


YVR is staging a social media campaign to celebrate 25 million passengers this year (photo: @yvrairport)

Vancouver International Airport says it will set a new record of 25 million passengers on December 18 and it’s throwing a social media party to celebrate, promising 25 days of prize giveaways with a grand prize awarded in December.

The daily contests are being held on YVR’s TwitterInstagram and Facebook accounts, and a special web page has been set up with a countdown clock to the big moment, the morning of Tuesday they 18th.

The milestone is being reached two years faster than the airport expected in its master plan, approved by the federal government just this year. The document guides planning decisions for the next 20 years, and does not project hitting 25 million passengers until 2020.

The Pacific hub served 22.3 million passengers in 2016, and loads have increased more than 12% in just two years. Accommodating all those people means the airport is going through some growing pains.

YVR is in the midst of a $9.1 billion expansion, adding new parking, modernizing utilities and expanding the international terminal by eight gates.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean passengers will be able to walk from their warm, dry waiting area directly onto their flight. Sometimes, there are no gates available for all the planes that want to use them, especially in the busy summer months. So the airport is implementing bus operations to move passengers to airplanes when there are no gates available.

The master plan contains a tacit admission that bussing passengers is here to stay. In the airport’s current expansion, four gates are being built, but only two have contact bridges for aircraft.

The airport says the construction will make the facility big enough to accommodate 29 million passengers in 2020.