Vancouver Airport’s priority is Asian market

Courtesy The Province

Announcing his planned retirement next year, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) CEO Larry Berg can be proud of the Canadian airport being rated as one of the best in the continent. However, in light of concerns that the airport may be losing traffic to nearby airports across the border, such as Bellingham and Seattle, which offer cheaper flights (See Canadian airports lose five million passengers annually to US border competitors, Oct 5, 2012), Mr berg is not ruffled. “The door swings both ways,” he said.

In his opinion, YVR’s focus must be: “Keep costs low, services high, and market to Asian customers.”

Granting that all airports will want to keep their costs low and maintain high service standards, it is clear where YVR’s priorities lie. And by Asia, Mr Berg was thinking topmost about China. YVR and other government officials have been courting the Chinese to look to Canada, and to use Vancouver as the western gateway to the North America. Canada’s agreement with China to give Chinese residents “preferred destination status” has helped promote leisure travel to Canada.  In 1992, there were 17 weekly flights between Vancouver and Chinese ports; this has increased to 61.

Other Asian destinations do not matter as much.

For YVR, the loss of traffic to US border airports is a small price to pay since these passengers are likely to travel short-haul across the United States when it can redirect its resources to attract more international traffic. YVR’s edge will be to provide the connections, convenience and facilities that its competitors do not offer. That, Mr Berg is hopeful, may result in more Americans choosing to travel to Asia via Vancouver.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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