YVR should be a transit hub between China and South America

Carson Ting | BCBusiness

Craig Richmond. CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority

Craig Richmond was taking flying lessons before he was old enough to drive and became an Air Force pilot by age 20. He spent 11 years in operations at YVR before taking over the running of airports in Liverpool, Cyprus and the Bahamas, returning to YVR last summer. Every airport is a gateway from here to there, and Richmond has been pushing the idea that YVR needs to capitalize on its geographic location in a different way. There’s money to be made in being a so-called “holding pen” for transit passengers. A Chinese airline has already committed to keeping two jumbo jets in Vancouver as a base—which means hundreds of jobs for maintenance, support and flight crew, if his idea comes to pass.

My Big Idea

“YVR should be a transit hub between China and South America.”

Sao Paulo to Vancouver to Shanghai—it’s almost a perfectly straight line. We are in a very fortunate geographic place. There’s mining in Santiago. Who needs to get there? Everyone, especially the Chinese. Break it down this way: 200 people arrive from China, 75 get off here, 125 continue down to Chile and 40 people from Vancouver get on board. Transit without visas has been around for a long time but it used to be a horrible experience. Also, there were concerns that people would claim refugee status when they landed—but do you know how many we’ve had? Zero. They’re not here to jump ship; they’re here to get to a place where it’s convenient to have a stop in Canada. Middle Eastern hubs have taken 15 per cent of the traffic, and you learn that the transportation business is like water: people go wherever it’s easy to go, and we’ve been losing out.