Airport Improvement Fee to increase by 25 percent for expansion
By Tania Arora, Staff Reporter
The CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, Craig Richmond made an announcement to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Thursday September 12 about the expansion plans of the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The Airport Improvement Fee (AIF) will increase to $20 to $25 effective January 1, 2020. The move is planned to fund the future growth of the airport and to ensure sound, long-term financial health. The fee is applicable to the passengers travelling outside British Columbia.
Even after the price increase, YVR airport has one of the lowest AIF out of the eight major Canadian airports. It it also offers a heavy discounted rate for flights within BC and towards the Yukon at $5.
Other information shared at the event included the results of the latest economic impact study—emphasizing how key to the area the airport is. According to the report: “ tourism and cargo, YVR helps facilitate $20.2 billion in total economic output, $10.4 billion in total Gross Domestic Product and $1.4 billion in total government revenue in B.C. In addition, YVR supports more than 26,500 jobs on Sea Island and over 126,000 jobs across the province.”
Necessitating the AIF is the fact that the government doesn’t contribute funding to running the airport. No AIF would mean there weren’t enough funds to both operate and improve the airport. According to YVR, “[It] has collected $2.2 billion from the AIF since its inception in 1993 and has spent $3.7 billion on capital projects during that same timeframe.”
Bhavika Gaba, a student at Douglas College, in an interview with the Other Press said, “The hike in the fee is totally understandable but the cost of flying is increasing day by day. The airport authority is a major beneficiary of the economy. Citizens do gain in terms of job opportunities and infrastructure but get impacted as well.”
Over the period of next 20 years, the Vancouver Airport is expected to go through a multi-billion-dollar capital expansion program and complete nearly 75 major projects.
Richmond discussed the importance of the developmental projects by saying, “If we took away the AIF, YVR wouldn’t be able to keep up. We wouldn’t be able to make sound decisions that have the success of future generations in mind or meet regulatory requirements. Our infrastructure would wear down, the passenger experience would decline, people would choose other airports for connections and we would not be able to deliver on our public mandate to provide economic and social benefits to our communities.”