Vancouver International Airport
French: Aéroport international de Vancouver
|Operator||Vancouver International Airport Authority|
|Location||Richmond, British Columbia|
|Focus city for|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−08:00)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−07:00)|
|Elevation AMSL||13 ft / 4 m|
Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR, ICAO: CYVR) is located on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, about 12 km (7.5 mi) from Downtown Vancouver. It is the second busiest airport in Canada by aircraft movements (306,799) and passengers (25.9 million), behind Toronto Pearson International Airport. It is often described as a trans-Pacific hub, with non-stop daily flights to Asia, Europe, Oceania, the United States, Mexico and other airports within Canada. It is a hub for Air Canada and WestJet, and an operating base for Air Transat. Vancouver International Airport is one of eight Canadian airports that have US Border Preclearance facilities. It is also one of the few major international airports to have a terminal for scheduled floatplanes.
The airport has won several notable international best airport awards. It won the Skytrax Best North American Airport award in 2007 and 2010 through 2019, for a record 10 consecutive years. The airport also made the list of top 10 airports in the world for the first time in 2012, rated at 9th (2012), 8th (2013), and 9th (2014) overall. It is the only North American airport included in the top 10 for 2013 and 2014. YVR also retains the distinction of Best Canadian Airport in the regional results.
In 1929 the city of Vancouver purchased land on Sea Island for aviation purposes, replacing the original grass airstrip at Minoru Park on Lulu Island. During World War II, the airports and its original terminal, now the South Terminal, were leased to the federal government and operated by the Department of National Defence and the Department of Transport as RCAF Station Sea Island. The airport was used for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The crews and their families were housed in a new townsite on the island, named Burkeville after Boeing president Stanley Burke. Funds from the lease were used to purchase additional land for new hangars and a production plant for Boeing Aircraft of Canada (now Boeing Canada).
The present main terminal was completed in 1968 and has since been expanded to include separate domestic and international terminals. A north runway was completed in 1996.
In 2011 the airport announced that it will enact a program aiming to encourage airlines to start more flights between Vancouver and Asia.
The airport has often been described as a major trans-Pacific hub, owing to its location in the Pacific Northwest and destinations in the Americas, Asia and Australia which facilitate connecting flights. In 2019, Craig Richmond, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, said that the recent growth of Seattle–Tacoma International Airport could challenge Vancouver's status as a trans-Pacific hub.
Vancouver International Airport has three terminals: the Domestic Terminal, International Terminal and the South Terminal. The Domestic and International terminals are connected and, combined, are often referred to as the Main Terminal. Free Wi-Fi is available in all sections of the airport. The South Terminal, along with the adjacent floatplane docks, is referred to by airport management as "Airport South."
The Main Terminal is divided in two sections: the Domestic Terminal and the International Terminal. The majority of flights operate at the Main Terminal. The two sections are connected both pre-security and post-security; however, the US border preclearance area is separated off using movable glass partitions which can be adjusted based on the arrangement of swing gates between piers D and E.
The Domestic Terminal was constructed in 1968 by the Vancouver-based firm Thompson, Berwick and Pratt and recently[when?] given a top-to-bottom renovation by Vancouver architect Kasian Kennedy. The Domestic terminal consists of three piers (A-C).
Pier A consists of 6 gates: A6 through A12. These gates are used by WestJet Encore.
Pier B comprises gates B13 through B23 and B26 through B28, for a total of 14 gates. Gates B14 to B17 have provisions allowing international arrivals in the future. Gate B23 is a ground loading ramp accessing stands 23A, 23B, and 23C. Pier B is the hub for domestic flights for WestJet, and additionally serves domestic flights by Air North, Air Transat, Flair Airlines, and Sunwing Airlines.
There are 24 gates in Pier C: C29 through C52. This is the hub for Air Canada and Air Canada Express domestic flights. C50, C51 and C52 are also frequently used by WestJet as they are swing gates and can be used for international arrivals and departures (designated as D50 to D52). In addition, C48 and C49 can receive international/US arrivals.
The International Terminal was designed by Vancouver-based Architectura, now Stantec, with Kansas City-based HNTB Corporation (1994–96). YVR is one of eight Canadian airports with United States border preclearance facilities, which are situated in the International Terminal. All gates in the International Terminal can accept flights arriving from all international and US origins: passengers are directed onto overhead walkways which lead to the customs and immigration area.
Pier D is used by all international-bound and select US-bound flights from Vancouver. There are 17 gates: D50 to D55, D58, D59, D62, D64 to D67, D70, D71, D73, and D75. D59 is a bus gate for remote stands. All gates can handle wide-body aircraft; seven gates are fitted with 2 jet bridges, two of which can handle the Airbus A380. British Airways operates the A380 seasonally to Vancouver. The pier is being expanded to the west to allow for more gates and more remote stand operations.
D50 to D52 are swing gates that can be used by domestic flights (designated C50 to C52). D67 through D75 are swing gates which may be partitioned off to allow for a higher number of United States border preclearance flights (designated E67 through E75).
Pier E is the US border preclearance area and consists of 20 gates: E76 to E88 and E90 to E96. Gates E76 to E78 can accommodate smaller wide-body aircraft and are swing gates which used to be used for international departures (as gates D76 to D78). Gate E85 is a bus gate for remote stands. Gate E95 accesses ground-loading stands 95A and 95B.
The majority of US-bound flights operate from Pier E; the only exceptions are flights from an international origin (Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong—Vancouver—New York) and flights that depart after 8:30 p.m. (mainly seasonal eastbound red-eye flights).
The Airport South complex includes the South Terminal, the Floatplane Facility and other adjacent operations.
The South Terminal serves regional airlines which fly mostly within British Columbia, such as Pacific Coastal Airlines and Central Mountain Air, in addition to chartered flights. A nearby building serves as the YVR terminal for Helijet.
The Vancouver International Water Airport (TC LID: CAM9) is located on Inglis Drive, a short distance from the South Terminal. This facility allows floatplanes to land and dock on the South Arm of the Fraser River. The facility is served by all floatplane operators other than Harbour Air, which maintains a separate dock and terminal at the Flying Beaver Bar and Grill nearby.
Airlines and destinations
^1 China Southern flights from Guangzhou to Vancouver continue on to Mexico City. However, China Southern does not have fifth freedom rights to transport passengers from Vancouver to Mexico City.
|Year||Passengers||% Change||Year||Passengers||% Change||Year||Passengers||% Change|
Rapid transit (SkyTrain)
The airport has its own station on the SkyTrain network called YVR-Airport, the terminus of the Sea Island branch of the Canada Line, to which the airport contributed $300 million towards construction. A pedestrian footbridge ($117 million, completed in 2007) links the international terminal with the domestic terminal and serves as the arrival and departure area for users of the Canada Line. The Canada Line itself opened in August 2009 as the third line of Vancouver's rapid transit network, in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics which took place the following February. It was the only airport rail link service of any kind in Canada until the opening of Toronto's Union Pearson Express in 2015.
When Canada Line service is interrupted, such as overnight or other service disruptions, the N10 night bus operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company (under contract to TransLink) connects the airport's international and domestic terminals to Richmond and downtown Vancouver. The airport's south terminal is served by the 412 bus, which connects to the Canada Line at Bridgeport Station. Between 2001 and the Canada Line's opening in 2009, regular bus service was provided by TransLink route 424.
Coach to Whistler, Squamish and Victoria
YVR Skylynx buses to Whistler runs direct from YVR Vancouver Airport and Vancouver City Centre to Squamish, Creekside Village and Whistler using modern coaches with up to 16 services a day. Free Wi-Fi, onboard washrooms and extra legroom. Children are 50% off and infants under 5 are free.
YVR Skylynx also operates daily services to Victoria from YVR Vancouver Airport on its Ferry route.
YVR completed a $1.4-billion multi-year capital development plan, which included a four-gate expansion to the International Terminal Wing, completed in June 2007. Two of the four new gates are conventional wide-bodied gates and two are able to accommodate the Airbus A380. The international terminal addition includes interior design elements intended to represent British Columbia, including a stream in a pathway and fish and jellyfish tanks.
A five-gate and food and retail expansion was completed in 2009 for Domestic Terminal's C-Pier. The train that links downtown Vancouver, YVR and Richmond opened in August 2009.
Vancouver International Airport Authority has developed a 2017–2037 Master Plan, called Flight Plan 2037 which includes 75 projects at a projected cost of $5.6 billion. The plan allows for the airport to serve 35 million passengers by 2037. The plan calls for expansion of facilities around the existing large terminal. New piers and gates will be added, as well as a second parking garage, taxiways, improved vehicle access. A new runway may also be constructed. 4 additional gates at the international terminal are expected to be added in the first phase with completion in 2020. Final approval of the plan by the Ministry of Transport is needed.
YVR's interior has a uniquely British Columbian theme, featuring one of the most extensive collections of Pacific Northwest Coast Native art in the world, and blues and greens to reflect the colours of the land, sea and sky. This theme was put in place by Vancouver-based Architectura (now Stantec Architecture Ltd). The airport uses a great deal of carpet and vast expanses of glass to let in large amounts of natural light. One of the most noticeable places for an arriving passenger is the International arrivals hall, a large area where customs and immigration procedures are completed. Arriving passengers come down escalators leading to a platform across a large waterfall. The YVR aboriginal art collection includes wooden sculptures and totem poles. Bill Reid's sculpture in bronze, "The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe", is displayed in the international departures area. This is the second of two castings of this sculpture; the first casting, "The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Black Canoe", is now displayed outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. The Institute for Stained Glass in Canada has documented the stained glass at Vancouver International Airport.
Vancouver International Airport is well regarded as one of the most accessible airports in the world. In 2004, Vancouver International Airport was awarded of the Rick Hansen Accessibility Award, which recognizes "facilities and communities that improve the quality of life for people with mobility limitations". Vancouver International Airport has exceeded national building code requirements with respect to access for people with disabilities, which Hansen has said "benefits not only people in wheelchairs, but the elderly, the blind, parents pushing strollers and everyone else with mobility problems".
Since 1992, Vancouver Airport Authority has been working with an independent accessibility consultant to eliminate the physical barriers in the built environment and is "committed to providing fully accessible terminal facilities for people of all backgrounds and capabilities". With 80% of the vacationing traveling public over the age of 55, and with more than 550 million people worldwide that have a disability, Vancouver International Airport's commitment to meaningful access is a fundamental part of good customer service.
Designated short-term parking spaces and curb-side ramps are available on each level of the terminal building for vehicles displaying a valid SPARC permit, and are located next to main doors near check-in counters and baggage claim areas for easier access. Lowered counters with toe clearance for wheelchair users are also available at check-in, customer care and all retail outlets in Vancouver Airport. Bathrooms have also been designed to be wheelchair accessible with doorless and no-touch entry features, lowered sinks and handsfree bathroom dispensers. Grab bars and emergency call buttons are also present in all wheelchair accessible toilet stalls.
Low resistance carpeting and other materials such as laminate flooring have been utilized throughout the airport to make it easier for people using wheelchairs and walkers to move throughout the airport. Elevators are large and allow for easy turning in a wheelchair and special wheelchairs designed to fit down aircraft aisles are utilized to assist with boarding and de-planing. Wheelchair lifts have been installed at aircraft gates to provide disabled passengers with their own wheelchairs as quickly as possible after an aircraft lands in Vancouver.
Features that have been implemented throughout the airport to aid those with hearing loss include a public address system to reduce noise pollution for those with hearing aids. Vancouver International Airport has installed more individual speakers in a given space than is standard, which allows the volume of the speakers to be turned down and provides a better quality of sound. At check-in counters, amplified handsets are available to aid those with hearing aids, and all telephones throughout the airport have adjustable volume controls. "Visual pagers" are dedicated video monitors that are located throughout the airport and convey important information to travellers that have hearing impairments. In the event of an emergency, a video override system displays large bold messages on all entertainment systems, and provides information about the type of emergency and the required course of action from the public. Strobe fire alarms have also been installed throughout the airport and have been carefully programmed to prevent seizures to those with epilepsy. Vancouver Airport has its own TTY telephone number for incoming inquiries about airport operations and within the terminal there are also 23 public telephone equipped with TTY at both stand up and seated positions.
Vancouver International Airport also has numerous features that have been implemented to assist visually impaired travellers. Three types of flooring are utilized throughout the terminal and function as a texturized guide to assist travellers in identifying their location within the airport. In areas with tile or terrazzo, patterns in the tile help to identify exits. Areas that have carpet help to identify that a gate is close by and areas with laminate flooring indicate retail spaces. Tactile maps are also available at customer service counters throughout the airport, and braille and tactile lettering are used throughout the airport to indicate building features such as washrooms.
Green Coat Ambassadors
Vancouver Airport Authority was one of the first airports in North America to institute a volunteer program in 1989. Volunteers in green vest/jacket are deployed around the airport to provide information, customer service and be the 'eyes and ears' for the various partners in the airport community between the hours of 6 am to 10 pm everyday. Volunteers are given basic training in airport operations and undertake many of the similar trainings mandated to airport employees. Each volunteer is required to obtain Transportation Security Clearance and Restricted Area Identification Card for the purposes of accessing the restricted and sterile areas of the terminal.
Operation Yellow Ribbon
As a result of the September 11 attacks, the airspace over the United States was shut down. Aircraft over the North Atlantic and Pacific bound for the United States were therefore diverted to Canadian airports. Being the only major airport in Western Canada with the ability to receive large-body planes, Vancouver International Airport accommodated 34 of these flights (3rd highest after Halifax and Gander) amounting to a total of 8,500 passengers.
Fire and policing
Vancouver International Airport Emergency Services Team is the primary fire services at the airport. The airport fire station and tenders (4) are owned by the Vancouver Airport Authority. Richmond Fire has additional resources when required from Richmond Fire Hall #4 (Sea Island) at 3900 Russ Baker Way, as well as the Canadian Coast Guard.
Policing at the airport is provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Airport Detachment.
Accidents and incidents
- On February 7, 1968, a Canadian Pacific Airlines Boeing 707 overran a runway and hit a building, while landing in heavy fog, killing one crew member.
- On March 1, 1970, Vickers Viscount CF-THY of Air Canada collided in mid-air with Ercoupe 415 CF-SHN on approach to Vancouver International Airport. The Ercoupe pilot was killed.
- On June 23, 1985, two unauthorized luggages containing bombs were checked in at the airport, and loaded onto Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 60 to Toronto and Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 3 to Tokyo, respectively. Upon exploding, the former killed all 329 on board Air India Flight 182, and the latter, intended for Air India Flight 301, exploded at Tokyo Narita International Airport, killing two baggage handlers.
- On August 19, 1995, Douglas C-47B (DC-3) C-GZOF of Air North crashed during an emergency return to the airport killing one of the three crew. The aircraft was on a ferry flight to Prince Rupert Airport when the starboard propellor went into overspeed and the decision was made to return to Vancouver International.
- On October 19, 1995, a Canadian Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aborted takeoff on runway 26 (now 26L) two seconds after the V1 call. The aircraft ended up in the soft ground west of the end of runway, causing the failure of the nose gear. All 243 passengers and 14 crew escaped with no more than minor injuries.
- On September 11, 2001, an Air China 747 from Beijing to San Francisco, was escorted by two U.S. F-15s onto the airport's north runway during Operation Yellow Ribbon, apparently due to a communication problem.
- On October 14, 2007, a Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, died after being shot with a taser by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the airport. Dziekański, who did not speak English, became agitated after waiting approximately 10 hours at the arrivals hall because he could not find his mother. While police were attempting to take Dziekanski into custody he was tased by officers and subsequently died. The subsequent Braidwood Inquiry began in May 2008. In June 2010, the judge found that the use of the Taser was not justified. The RCMP issued an apology to Dziekanski's mother. The commission also found that Tasers have the capability to injure or kill by causing heart irregularities, especially where the individual is medically or emotionally compromised.
- On October 19, 2007, at approximately 4:10 pm, a Piper Seneca bound for Pitt Meadows Airport took off from YVR and crashed into a nearby apartment building in Richmond. The pilot was the sole occupant of the plane. He was killed in the crash. Two others were injured, both of whom were in the apartment building at the time.
- On December 10, 2007 Sikh protesters paralyzed the airport caused by the deportation of illegal paralyzed refugee Laibar Singh.
- On September 18, 2008, in the afternoon, an Air Canada Airbus A340 collided with an Air Canada Jazz Dash 8 aircraft. The Jazz flight was taxiing on the runway when it collided. The Air Canada flight was bound for Hong Kong. Both aircraft received damage but there were no injuries or fatalities.
- On July 9, 2009, at approximately 10:08pm, a Piper Navajo airplane originating from Victoria crashed into an industrial area in Richmond, British Columbia. The two pilots were killed. It was owned and operated by Canadian Air Charters and was carrying units of blood for Canadian Blood Services at the time. Officials say that wake turbulence was the main cause of the crash. Fatigue, along with diminished depth perception in darkness, was also a factor.
- On October 27, 2011, at around 4:15pm, a Northern Thunderbird Air Beechcraft King Air 100 attempted to land on the south runway but missed by about 900 metres (3,000 ft), hitting a lamppost and car, then crashing on nearby Russ Baker Way and Gilbert Road at the west end of Dinsmore Bridge. There were seven passengers and two crew members on board; only the pilot was confirmed dead at 9:00 pm that evening, while the others survived with various injuries. Two on the ground were also injured. On November 16, 2011, the co-pilot of the flight died as well.
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- "Richmond plane crash leaves pilot dead". CBC News. October 28, 2011. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- "GlobalBC TV Twitter". Archived from the original on March 8, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- "Facts and Stats". YVR.ca. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
- Vancouver International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport page on Places to Fly, the airport directory of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association
- Vancouver International Airport Authority Union
- Past three hours METARs, SPECI and current TAFs for Vancouver International Airport from Nav Canada as available.