Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport, or YVR, is an international airport on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia. Managed by the Vancouver Airport Authority, the airport serves the City of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland region. It is a hub for Air Canada and WestJet and an operating base for Air Transat. The second-busiest airport in Canada, the airport is considered a trans-Pacific hub, with more direct flights to China than any other airport in North America. There are two terminals: the Main Terminal, which houses the Domestic Concourse (44 gates) and the International Concourse (49 gates), and the South Terminal, which includes the pre-1968 terminal and the floatplane facility. In 2021, there were 166,935 aircraft operations. There are three runways: 08L/26R, which is 9,940 feet (concrete); 08R/26L, which is 11,500 feet (asphalt/concrete); and 13/31, which is 7,300 feet (asphalt/concrete).

Airport history

YVR originated in 1929 when the City of Vancouver purchased land on Sea Island to replace the original grass airstrip at Minoru Park on Lulu Island. During WWII, the airport and its terminal (now the South Terminal) were leased to the federal government and operated by the Department of National Defense and the Department of Transport under the title RCAF Station Sea Island to be used for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The funds from the lease were used to purchase additional land for new hangars and a production plant for Boeing Aircraft of Canada (now Boeing Canada). In 1968, the current Main Terminal building was completed. It has expanded in time since it has had different concourses for domestic and international flights. In 1996, the north runway was completed. The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games necessitated expansion. As such, a $1.4 billion development plan was put into place, with the first part completed in June 2007, which included a four-gate expansion to International Terminal Wing (with two gates to accommodate regular wide-bodied jets and two to accommodate the Airbus A380), and a five-gate with food and retail expansion completed in 2009 in the Domestic Terminal. YVR enacted a program in 2011 to encourage airlines to start more flights between Vancouver and Asia, which is now considered a major Trans-Pacific hub due to its location in the Pacific Northwest and its destinations in the Americas, Asia, and Australia (although there is the potential that the recent growth of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport could challenge Vancouver’s status as a Trans-Pacific hub). A $5.6 billion Master Plan was put in place for 2017-2037, allowing the airport to serve 35 million passengers. The first phase was completed in February 2021, with eight gates added to the international terminal. Other parts of the plan calls for the expansion of facilities around the existing terminal, with the addition of new piers and gates, a second parking garage, taxiways, and improved vehicular access. A new runway may also be constructed.

Airport location

The airport is located 7.5 miles from Downtown Vancouver. 

Airport facts

  • The international terminal includes interior design elements that represent British Columbia, including a pathway stream and fish and jellyfish tanks. 
  • YVR is highly awarded, won the Skytrax Best North American Airport in 2007 and from 2010 through 2022, and has also made the list of top ten airports worldwide numerous times. 
  • YVR is one of the few major international airports with a scheduled floatplanes terminal. 
  • The airport is located on the traditional territory of the Musqueam Indian Band, and there is an agreement to work towards a sustainable and mutually beneficial future for the community.

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