Vancouver International Airport (YVR) will have ample more capacity and amenities beginning in the summer of 2020 when a major international terminal building expansion opens.
Construction on the Pier D extension project reached a major milestone today, with media and guests invited to a ceremonial steel topping ceremony and to mark the rough one-year countdown until the new wing opens.
This expansion will provide YVR with eight additional wide body gates, including four jet bridge gates and four remote stand operation bus gates to create much-needed additional terminal building capacity. Two gates will also have the ability to handle aircraft as large as the Airbus A380.
Designed by Kasian Architecture and constructed by PCL, the building builds on the West Coast contemporary interior design theme established by the existing terminal facilities — growing the design that establishes a unique sense of place. An iconic showpiece within the expansion will be an “island forest,” complete with three live western hemlock trees, contained within a glass-enclosed atrium that is open to the outdoors.
The new terminal space is also slated to include new restaurants and bars, digital art, and a “next-generation” pet relief area.
This is YVR’s largest terminal building expansion since the complete overhaul and modernization of the airport in 1996, according to Vancouver Airport Authority president and CEO Craig Richmond.
“Our airport has evolved to become a connecting hub, linking major destinations all over the world, and this project is crucial to our success,” said Richmond.
YVR saw a record 25.94 million passengers in 2018 — up from 24.2 million in 2017 and 17 million in 2011. It is expected passenger numbers through the airport could reach as high as 31 million by 2022, which would be astonishing considering that is roughly the same volume experienced by Toronto Pearson International Airport earlier in the decade.
The latest terminal expansion is one of 75 projects in YVR’s ambitious $9.1-billion, 20-year expansion and improvement plan, which includes several major expansions of the terminal building.
However, Richmond says the airport authority will be slowing down on its terminal expansion projects after the completion of the Pier D extension, as it is expected to provide YVR with the additional capacity it needs over the short term at least.
“With this expansion and with our new bus gate operations, we have a lot of capacity, like 20 additional gates equivalent. So we can take a pause, see which way it’s going, and look at technology,” Richmond told Daily Hive.
“We will probably expand the transborder terminal but we haven’t really start to think about it yet, we want to see how the economy does and how Pier D fills up. But we’re ready to go at a moments notice.”
So much of YVR’s recent passenger growth can be attributed to Air Canada’s decision earlier in the decade to strengthen YVR’s position as the airline’s Trans-Pacific hub. Over two dozen route improvements and additions have been made by the national carrier in the last five years, including brand new frequent routes to Taipei, Osaka, Delhi, Brisbane, Melbourne, Dublin, London Gatwick, Paris, and soon Auckland.
Tertius Serfontein, the senior director of airports for Air Canada in Western Canada, said more Trans-Pacific routes from YVR are under consideration.
“We are assessing a number of routes across the Pacific,” said Serfontein. “There are routes that are very popular and under review, and of course there are some that come up to the top again.”