Vancouver airport begins international terminal expansion

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has started the next phase of a multi-year capital improvement program that includes a much-needed expansion of its Pier D international terminal.

The terminal expansion—the airport’s largest in more than two decades—will add four new gates and four remote stands configured to support aircraft up through the Airbus A380. YVR executives and regional officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new work June 14. The new Pier D gates are expected to open in mid-2020, with minor finishing work continuing until 2021, a YVR spokesperson said.

The Pier D work is part of a C$9.1 billion ($6.9 billion) expansion that includes 75 major projects during the next 20 years. Items on the list include re-configuring its landside parking to accommodate 10 additional remote-stand parking areas, adding runway safety areas, and constructing a new central utilities building.

Much of the work is being fast-tracked to support YVR’s rapid growth. The airport served a record 24.2 million passengers in 2017, up 8.4% year-over-year. The figure is projected to reach 29 million in 2020—or four million more than the goal envisioned, and planned for, just a few years ago.

International passengers—excluding transborder flyers—make up about 25% of YVR’s traffic and are out-pacing the overall figure, rising 13% in 2017 and 17% in 2016. The rapid growth and revised projections are built into the airport’s updated master plan, which applies a more aggressive timeline to some key projects.

Adding airside capacity has meant making a few compromises. The 10 remote stands planned for the terminal’s east side, opposite the west-side Pier D expansion, will be built on existing passenger parking, removing 2,000 spaces. YVR is setting up a new valet service to compensate for the lost spots.

The remote stands are both quicker and more cost-effective to add than traditional terminal gates. YVR puts the cost of each remote stand at about $12 million, compared to $50 million for a new terminal gate.

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