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Vancouver International Airport is located on Sea Islandmarker in Richmondmarker, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker, about from Downtownmarker Vancouvermarker. In 2008 it was the second busiest airport in Canada by aircraft movements (337,802) and passengers (17.8 million), behind Toronto Pearson International Airportmarker, with non-stop flights daily to Asia, Europe, Oceania, the United Statesmarker, Mexicomarker, the Caribbeanmarker, and other airports within Canada. The airport has won several notable international best airport awards, and it won the Skytrax Best North American Airport award in 2007. YVR also retains the distinction of Best Canadian Airport in the regional results. It is a hub for Air Canada and Air Transat as well as a focus city for WestJet.

Vancouver International Airport is one of eight Canadian Airports that have U.S. border preclearance facilities.

Vancouver International Airport is owned by Transport Canada and is managed by Vancouver International Airport Authority, which also manages other airports around the world through its Vancouver Airport Services subsidiary.


In 1927, Charles Lindbergh refused to include Vancouver in his North American tour because of the lack of a proper airport. Two years later, the city purchased land on Sea Island for aviation purposes, replacing the original grass airstrip at Minoru Parkmarker. During World War II the airports and its original terminal, now the South Terminal, would be leased to the Federal government, and operated by the department of National Defence and Transport. The airport was a base for Royal Canadian Air Force training, the crews and their families housed in a new townsite on the island, named Burkeville after Boeing president Stanley Burke. Funds from the lease was used to purchase additional land for new hangars and a production plant for Boeing Aircraft of Canada.

The present main terminal was completed in 1968, and has since been expanded to include separate domestic and international terminals. A north runway was completed in 1996.


Due to its proximity to Asia in relation to the rest of Canada, YVR is a gateway between Canada and Asia. It has more transpacific flights than any other airport in Canada. The sizable number of Asian Canadians living in Vancouver contributes to the large number of flights as well.

By the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is expected to top 20 million passengers annually, ranking YVR in the Top 50 airports in the world by passenger traffic.


Vancouver International Airport has four terminals:
*the domestic terminal, which was constructed in 1968 and recently given a top-to-bottom renovation
*the International Terminal
*the Transborder Terminal, which was newly constructed in the mid to late 1990s
*the South Terminal, which is a portion of the original terminal that is still in use

The International and Domestic terminals can more or less be considered to be one building divided into two sections, while the South terminal is located in a remote part of the airport. The South Terminal serves regional airlines which fly mostly within British Columbia. The international terminal is divided into international departures and trans-border departures (to the USA only). United States-bound flights from the international terminal do not go through US border preclearance in Vancouver.


Vancouver International Airport's interior has a uniquely British Columbia theme, featuring one of the most extensive collections of Pacific Northwest Coast Native art in the world, and blues and greens to reflect the colours of the land, sea and sky. The airport uses a great deal of carpet and vast expanses of glass to let in large amounts of natural light. One of the most noticeable pieces in an arriving passenger's trip is the International arrivals hall, a large area where customs and immigration procedures are completed. Arriving passengers come down escalators leading to a platform across a large waterfall. The YVR aboriginal art collection includes wooden sculptures and totem poles. Bill Reid's sculpture in bronze, "The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe", is displayed in the international departures area.

Airlines and destinations

Interior of the domestic terminal's check-in area for Air Canada.
International arrivals hall
A Canadian Aboriginal wood sculpture, located on the first floor of the domestic terminal.
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, the Jade Canoe, located on the International departure level
Construction of the Canada Line .

Cities with direct international passenger airlinks with Vancouver International Airport

Cargo Airlines


In May 2005, the federal government, which owns the land, announced it was cutting rent costs by 54%. The rent reductions will cut the cost of the lease by approximately $840 million CAD between 2006-2020, or $5.0 billion CAD over the term of the lease, which ends in 2052. Currently, the airport authority pays about $80 million CAD each year in rent.

Passengers traveling through YVR are no longer required to pay a separate Airport Improvement Fee; it now is included in the price of a ticket.

Public transit connections

Rapid transit

The international and domestic terminals are served by YVR–Airport Stationmarker, a terminus station of the Canada Line. A link building ($117 million, completed in 2007) links the international terminal with the domestic terminal, and serves as the arrival and departure area for users of the Canada Line. The Canada Line is part of Metro Vancouver's SkyTrain rapid transit network; it opened in August 2009. Vancouver International Airport contributed $300 million to the Canada Line. Vancouver's airport is now the only one in Canada with a rapid transit connection.


Late at night and during Canada Line service interruptions, the N10 night bus connects the airport's international and domestic terminals to Richmond and downtown Vancouver. The airport's south terminal is served by the C92 bus, which connects to the Canada Line at Bridgeport Stationmarker.

Future expansion

A nine-gate international terminal expansion will be done in two phases ($420 million; Phase 1 – 2007; Phase 2 – by late 2009). The first phase saw four new gates with two conventional wide-bodied gates and two able to accommodate the Airbus A380. The international terminal addition has several examples of beauty in British Columbia, including a stream in a proposed pathway and fish and jellyfish tanks (completed). Phase 2 will add five additional gates and is currently under construction.

Vancouver International Airport Authority is currently developing a 2007-2027 Master Plan and Land Use Plan, a look forward 20 years to ensure YVR will be able to accommodate the passengers it expects. It is asking the community for input and toured local malls with an informational display to elicit feedback. The tour is complete, but the public can still provide feedback through the Master Plan section of the YVR website, where a copy of the draft Master Plan recommendations is also available.

Operation Yellow Ribbon

The airport's reputation as a premier gateway airport between Asia and North America was made evident during Operation Yellow Ribbon on September 11, 2001. With U.S. airspace closed as a result of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, there was no choice for Vancouver International Airport but to take part in the operation since it was the only major Canadian airport on the Lower Mainlandmarker or the British Columbia Coast that has the capability of handling large aircraft for trans-Pacific flights. The airport handled 34 flights carrying 8,500 passengers—more passengers than any other Canadian airport—from Asia to destinations on the United States West Coast and points beyond.

The airport won the 2001 Airport Management Award from the B.C. Aviation Council and was cited for overcoming many challenges in a professional and compassionate way.


There are several fixed base operators that service aircraft at Vancouver International Airport:

Accidents and incidents


  • On October 19, 1995, a Canadian Pacific Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aborted takeoff on runway 26 (now 26L) two seconds after the V1 call. The aircraft ended up in the soft ground west of the end of runway, causing the failure of the nose gear. All 243 passengers and 14 crew escaped with no more than minor injuries.

  • On October 14, 2007, Robert Dziekański, a 40-year-old Polish immigrant, died after leaving the secondary inspection area at the airport. Dziekański, who had become visibly agitated after spending ten hours in the customs area, died shortly after being tasered five times by Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker officers.

  • On October 19, 2007, at approximately 4:10 pm, a Piper Seneca bound for Pitt Meadows Airportmarker took off from YVR and crashed into a nearby apartment building in Richmond. The pilot was the sole occupant of the plane. He was killed in the crash. Two others were injured, both of whom were in the apartment building at the time. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

  • On September 18, 2008 in the afternoon, an Air Canada Airbus A340 collided with an Air Canada Jazz Dash 8 aircraft. The Jazz flight was taxiing on the runway when it collided. The Air Canada flight was bound for Hong Kongmarker. Both aircraft received damage but there were no injuries or fatalites.

  • On July 9, 2009 at approximately 10:08pm, a Piper Navajo airplane originating from Victoriamarker crashed into an industrial area in Richmond, across from IKEA on Sweden Way. It was believed that two people were on board and they are presumed dead. It was owned and operated by Canadian Air Charters and was carrying units of blood for Canadian Blood Services at the time. Officials say that wake turbulence may be a cause.


  1. Airport Divestiture Status Report
  2. Whe We Are
  3. The History of YVR
  6. YVR: Your Airport 2027
  7. YVR: Your Airport 2027, 20-Year Master Plan
  8. B.C. Aviation Council
  9. Transportation Safety Board of Canada Report 1995 - A95H0015

External links

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