Vancouver International Airport looking to sell naming and sponsorship rights

Sep 21 2022, 7:49 pm

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as a whole will not see a renaming, but amenities, features, and spaces found inside the terminal building could be named and branded after corporations and other organizations in exchange for sponsorship.

Vancouver Airport Authority announced today it has partnered with sponsorship sales firm TTG Canada to explore strategic sponsorship and naming rights opportunities.

Revenue raised from such partnerships is intended to go back into improving the passenger experience at YVR, with specific listed examples including building kid-friendly play areas, creating wellness seating pods, or furthering the airport’s sustainability efforts.

“We are exploring new and innovative ways to connect with our passengers and community. Partnering with TTG Canada and opening YVR for strategic sponsorships is a game changer,” said Robyn McVicker, vice president of passenger journey at Vancouver Airport Authority, in a statement.

“This is a unique opportunity for the best organizations in BC to showcase their brand and values throughout the airport to a global audience. For passengers, they can expect an improved airport journey as we leverage these innovative partnerships to offer new and exciting experiences throughout YVR.”

YVR’s terminal building is the largest building in BC in terms of total floor area, and when combined with its high passenger volumes, “the airport boasts numerous touch points for marketing and sponsorship opportunities.”

Earlier this year, YVR completed a “digital twin” of its terminal building and airfield with a video game platform, allowing the airport authority to optimize operations, training, future planning, simulation, and testing. The digital twin integrates historical and real-time data and can be presented through 2D or 3D visualization for data-driven decision making and collaboration. This also potentially allows for a convenient way to map out naming and sponsorship opportunities in the space.

“Rarely in the strategic marketing and sponsorship game do you get such a wealth of opportunity to truly enhance and improve a consumer’s journey, and have access to incredibly meaningful brand touch points,” said Bill Cooper, chief operating partner at TTG Canada.

TTG Canada is best known for its work in securing sponsorships for major sports events and sports organizations in Canada. Its team is led by former VANOC executives directly responsible for securing sponsorship for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

This comes at a time when passenger volumes have shown an exceptionally strong recovery, far quicker than originally anticipated.

For this week, YVR’s passenger volume forecasts for each day range between a low of 57,000 passengers on Tuesday to a high of 63,000 passengers on Sunday. Over the same week in 2019, YVR saw an average of 71,600 passengers daily.

Preliminary figures provided by YVR show it recorded 2.101 million passengers in August 2022 — including 1.063 million departing passengers and 1.038 million arriving passengers. This is the highest monthly total since the onset of the pandemic and represents 84% of the 2.511 million passengers recorded in August 2019. YVR is currently on target to end 2022 with annual passenger volumes equivalent to 2014 or 2015 levels.

While Vancouver International Airport’s (YVR) passenger volumes are nearing pre-pandemic levels as of late Summer 2022, the airport is still weighed down by the severe financial impacts of the hard-hit pandemic period when global aviation demand collapsed.

Annual financial statements show YVR recorded a $380 million deficit in 2020 when demand-driven revenues evaporated. It saw a low of only 69,000 passengers in all of April 2020, and the entire pandemic-stricken year saw 7.3 million passengers — 28% of 2019’s record high passenger volumes of 26.4 million.

In 2021, YVR’s annual deficit narrowed to $196 million for the year, improved by growing passenger volumes in the final two quarters of the year. It recorded a total of 7.1 million passengers in 2021.

YVR is also facing growing cost pressures from the labour shortage, deferred maintenance, and deferred ground-lease payments to the federal government for the use of Sea Island for its operations.

Naming and sponsorship opportunities are not a new concept to global airports, and it provides YVR with added non-aeronautical revenue sources, which already include its 50% stake in McArthurGlen YVR Airport Outlet Centre mall.

Earlier in 2022, YVR also indicated it intends to open up 400 under-utilized acres of Sea Island for industrial and commercial developments as a way to generate more non-aeronautical revenue. This includes land along the north side of the North Runway, and on the south side of the South Runway.

As well, it is looking for a private sector partner to complete the partially built industrial building that was previously intended to be the Central Utilities Building as part of the pre-pandemic CORE building program. Instead of completing the utility building for its originally planned uses, it is now set to become the Airport Commerce Centre — 300,000 sq ft of industrial space, and potentially office space.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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