Vancouver celebrates construction milestone

posted on 2nd October 2019
Vancouver celebrates construction milestone

Canada’s Vancouver International Airport has reached a major marker in the ongoing development programme that it believes will enhance its position as a ‘world-class hub’

This summer, Vancouver International Airport celebrated a major milestone in the development of its International Terminal Building. On 4 June, it marked the milestone with a steel topping ceremony at the terminal’s Pier D. The event marked the completion of the structural phase of the expansion of the building, which the gateway’s operator says remains on schedule to open in 2020.

The expanded International Terminal Building will have an additional eight widebody gates, including four bridged gates and four remote stand operation (RSO) gates. The extra gates will enable the airport to handle large aircraft including the A380 super jumbo.

Pier D represents the airport’s largest terminal expansion project in more than a decade. As well as the new airside gates, it will also include a range of new passenger amenities.

The newly expanded Pier D is expected to be open to the public during the summer of 2020, with some minor work continuing to take place until the end of that year.

Ongoing programme of expansion

The development of Vancouver’s International Terminal Building is just one aspect of a multi-billion dollar programme that involves no less than 75 development projects at Vancouver Airport over a period of 25 years. These include the gateway’s biggest sustainability projects to date and new parking options as well as Pier D’s expansion.

The improvements are seen as necessary to cater to the growing demand for the airport’s facilities. In fact, the operator of Vancouver International Airport, the Vancouver Airport Authority, says it is experiencing “unprecedented growth in passenger traffic” and that this trend is expected to continue. In 2018, Vancouver handled 25.9 million passengers (hitting the 25 million passenger target two years ahead of expectations). It predicts a throughput of 32 million passengers a year by 2022, with 29 million passengers anticipated next year.

At the recent steel topping ceremony, Vancouver Airport Authority president and CEO Craig Richmond noted that the airport for which he is responsible has the mandate, “to serve our region, connecting people and products to destinations all around the world. We are able to deliver on this thanks to our unique operating model and by being a connecting hub, which encourages passengers from other parts of the world to travel through our airport.”

And Tertius Serfontein, senior director, airports – western Canada, at Air Canada, remarked: “We have strategically developed and expanded Air Canada’s international network over the last several years, transforming [Vancouver Airport] into our commercial trans-Pacific hub that efficiently connects people from our Asia, Australia, India and Europe flights to and from our vast North American network radiating from [the airport].

“Over the last five years, we have added 46% in additional capacity and today, we launch up to 1,293 flights globally each week, representing more than C$5 billion worth of aircraft assets dedicated to the YVR market every day.”

Building for the future

Don Ehrenholz, vice president, engineering for Vancouver Airport Authority, offers some more details about the Pier D extension and other development programmes at the airport.

The Pier D project was launched in December 2017 and is expected to be (more or less) complete by summer 2020, he informs. “The terminal expansion plan is based on building in an incremental and centralised manner, which provides the opportunity to adapt construction based on passenger growth.

“A centralised expansion means one terminal, all interconnected, with the shortest possible distance between gates. This also means linked baggage systems and easy connections between International, Domestic and Transborder areas.”

The Pier D expansion project will represent a significant increase in operational capacity, Ehrenholz notes. The additional gates will enable Vancouver to support more turnarounds and larger aircraft. The airport is also adding a new outbound baggage sortation system and further security screening lanes to support the new gates.

The airport’s existing ground service providers will handle all the operations at the new gates. They will also continue to act as the airport operator’s partners to support Vancouver’s multi-year expansion plans.

In this regard, Ehrenholz explains: “Looking specifically at airside improvements, we started construction for runway end safety areas (RESAs) on our North Runway in 2018. RESAs improve safety in the unlikely event an aircraft lands short or overshoots a runway. We have invested C$150 million to build 300m RESAs, double the length of the proposed Canadian standard and in compliance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards. We have completed RESAs on both the South and Crosswind Runways.

“All these projects are possible due to Vancouver’s unique governance model,” Ehrenholz continues. “As a community-based, not-for-profit organisation, we re-invest all of our profits back into the airport, while receiving no government funding.

“One of our fundamental responsibilities is strong financial health. Funding for construction projects comes from diverse revenue streams including landing and terminal fees, funding from concessions, parking, kiosks and rents and our Airport Improvement Fee (AIF).”

He concludes: “Through all the various construction projects, Vancouver Airport continues to improve. We are building the infrastructure needed to further connect our region and we continue to add more services to destinations all over the world.”