|Foreign air travellers to Vancouver International Airport get improved services - but don't pay a cent for Airport Improvement Fee - that's a privilege reserved for British Columbians only! Drewski 2012 photo|
Tuesday May 1, 2012
By Bill Tieleman
- Author Richard Gordon, Doctor In The Swim
Vancouver International Airport's controversial Airport Improvement Fee jumps by 33 per cent today -- but British Columbians will overwhelmingly be paying it, while international connecting travellers will get all the benefits without spending an extra penny.
But people who actually live here - or tourists who visit Vancouver beyond YVR - will pay the freight through the higher AIF for another decade, despite the fact it was supposed to end in 2002.
YVR is a strange that answers to no member of the public or to any level of government -- and their decision is already final.
president Bruce Cran says YVR is "out of control" with the latest AIF increase.
"It's absolutely outrageous we're being charged another $5 tax to subsidize connecting passengers," Cran said in an interview Monday. "I don't think YVR serves the public of British Columbia well."
"We never asked for aquariums or shopping centres at YVR," Cran said, referring to the costly airport infrastructure that included the Vancouver Aquarium over $321,000 in 2010 for "aquarium maintenance and servicing."
But you can at least express your anger in two ways.
If you feel ripped off, join my Facebook.com protest page -- titled .
And if you can, attend YVR's annual on Thursday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m. in the East Concourse, Departures Level of the International Terminal, conveniently timed to exclude as many members of the public as possible!
Cran also points out that: "There's never been any real consumer representative on the YVR board of directors."
Business flying away
YVR's higher AIF is part of increasing costs that are enticing many B.C. air travellers to cross the U.S. border and fly out of Bellingham or Seattle, Washington in record numbers.
The Canadian Airports Council estimates Canada loses nearly 5 million passengers a year to U.S. border airports.
YVR will argue that their higher AIF is still lower than some other Canadian and U.S. airports and that VYR was voted for the third time in a row -- so suck up the fare increase and shut up.
But Vancouver ought to learn a lesson from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Europe's fifth biggest, which introduced a ticket tax of between $14 and $58 per trip in 2008 to raise $457 million annually.
Schiphol was forced to repeal the tax in less than a year after it lost nine per cent of all passengers and was forced cut its work force by 10 to 25 per cent as passengers fled to other, cheaper airports.
The Consumer Association's Cran says that while YVR is involved in other foreign airport management through its subsidiary Vantage, it to have Emirates Airlines fly out of Vancouver. That airline instead chose Seattle's Sea-Tax Airport as its hub, costing B.C. hundreds of jobs.
Meanwhile, don't bother asking Premier Christy Clark for any help. She to "commend Vancouver Airport Authority for its long-term vision in keeping YVR competitive" without even mentioning the higher fee.
And B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom is even more oblivious to the extra cost to travelers, stating: "It is exciting to see the Airport Authority investing significant funds like this in YVR's infrastructure."
** NOTE: This is a corrected version of my column - I regret that I originally wrote "only British Columbians" would pay the AIF when in fact any visitors who leave the confines of YVR will also pay it - only connecting passengers are exempt. Other sections of the original column should have made that clear but I apologize for the error on my part, which was unintentional - Bill Tieleman