You know, the motto of Vancouver is, “By air, land and sea, we prosper.”So, for example, we’re tied with San Francisco for the number of flights to China a week. A lot of them were new last year. And this year, they’re full. The economy of Canada and the US is generally good and that’s another 500,000 passengers. We’ve grown by about a million passengers a year.
As an international transit point between other countries, what changes are you working on to make life easier for the global traveler?
It’s kind of an obscure phrase,‘transit without visa.’You could fly from Santiago, Chile to Vancouver, disembark – you don’t have to have a visa for Canada – and then get on your flight to Shanghai. It’s just way more convenient for a business traveler, or even for leisure. Who wants to get two visas?
Good for the traveler; what’s in it for Vancouver?
This would really take us to the next level to become a real hub for business and leisure travel between Asia and the Americas. I think we’ve finally got our federal government to understand this is a good idea. And there’s very, very low risk.
The global nature of travel at Vancouver has led you to pioneer Automated Passport Control technology. How did you get into that?
In 1996 when we opened the new terminal we were one of the first airports in North America to have common-use check-in. So instead of having three banks, you’ve got one bank of reusable counters, which then led to the self-service kiosks. Then we took that technology and built these for Canadian citizens arriving back in Canada. And they worked pretty well. So three years ago our team started working with US Customs and Border Protection.
What about concerns that automation will compromise security? US Customs, Canadian Customs, all the agencies – do your jobs. And I think they’re to a point now where they realize it doesn’t have to be either/or. I don’t think there’s a dichotomy between speed and security. They can work together.
Are you surprised at how quickly these kiosks are being adopted?
For the last year, we’ve been selling like the iPad of the airport world. Everybody wants one. If somebody had said to me two years ago, There’s going to be this kiosk that gets people through US Customs four times as fast, naturally I would’ve said, I need to see that. Now that it’s happened, you couldn’t take these machines out of these airports. They’ve changed the experience.
If APCs have changed the experience today, what does that bode for future airports?