Vancouver International Airport fully opens international terminal expansion for use

Jun 8 2022, 9:30 pm

The single largest expansion of the terminal building of Vancouver International Airport (YVR) since 1996 is now fully open for operations.

The Pier D international wing, which officially opened last week, provides YVR with significant additional capacity — about 300,000 sq ft of added floor area, including eight more gates, with four traditional jet bridge gates and four remote stand bus gates. A British Airways flight from Vancouver to London on June 2 marked the start of full operations for both arrivals and departures from Pier D’s new gates.

“The new Pier D will result in many significant benefits for our community and the economy that supports it — helping us connect more travellers and airlines to more destinations while supporting local jobs, businesses, and economic activity for our region,” said Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, in a statement.

The passenger experience is also elevated from the introduction of also ample waiting and lounging areas with seating, and new amenities, including more retail and dining options, a multi-faith prayer room, yoga, and quiet room, and more accessible washrooms with changing equipment for individuals in need of an overhead hoist system.

But the centrepiece of the expansion is the walkable, glassed-in, island forest with access to the outdoors, along with an immersive digital experience on various glass surfaces that surround the atrium.

vancouver international airport yvr pier d terminal

The new Pier D international terminal expansion of Vancouver International Airport. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

vancouver international airport yvr pier d terminal

The new Pier D international terminal expansion of Vancouver International Airport. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

The expansion evolves YVR’s long-running terminal building architectural concept inspired by British Columbia’s land, sea, and sky, as well as Indigenous culture through the incorporation of First Nations art.

The building also features a high degree of green design features, including a heat recovery system that helps circulate air and reduce heating and cooling demands.

Construction on the $300-million Pier D first began in December 2017 and work was paused for about four months in 2020 upon the sudden onset of the pandemic. YVR restarted construction in late Summer 2020 and the expansion reached full completion in January 2021. However, due to depressed passenger volumes, Pier D’s facilities and spaces were not used until November 2021, when YVR began partially using some of the expansion for its operations.

As of May 2022, YVR’s passenger flows have greatly rebounded to an average of over 50,000 passengers per day — up from the pandemic low of 69,000 for the entire month of April 2020.

In pre-pandemic 2019, YVR saw up to 78,000 passengers daily, and a new record annual total of over 26 million passengers. Pier D was needed to increase the airport’s capacity beyond 25 million passengers annually.

Pier D was originally one of many projects under YVR’s 2018-implemented strategy of rolling out $9.1 billion worth of expansion and improvements over 20 years, but due to the long-term impacts of the pandemic on global air travel and the impact on the airport’s finances, this strategy is no longer being pursued.

Upon the pandemic’s sudden onset in 2020, YVR also suspended construction on the Central Utilities Building (CUB) serving the terminal building, and the parkade expansion. Both facilities are located just south of the international terminal building and SkyTrain guideway.

A decision was later made to cancel the plans to restart construction on the CUB as originally designed. Instead, YVR is currently seeking a business partner to complete the half-built CUB into 300,000 sq ft of logistics industrial space, and potentially office space, with contiguous floor plates of over 60,000 sq ft.

The nearly-completed parkade will be completed at some point in the future, but no timeline has been established.

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