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The Vancouver International Airport Authority hosted an open house to give the public a first look at the $24-million upgrade to the A Pier on the south end of the Domestic Terminal Building.

The newly renovated A Pier is 28,000 square feet with five aircraft gates, and is designed to accommodate 750 departing passengers. It features numerous shops and services including the Palomino Bar, a "To Go!" newsstand, three retail carts, a children's play area and an Alliance Atlantis Screening Lounge. A Pier's renovations were undertaken to meet the growing needs of YVR's domestic carriers, with a focus on the strong low-cost carrier market.

Low-cost carriers, which have operated worldwide for more than 30 years, have become a vital part of the airline industry, stimulating travel by offering cost-effective alternatives for domestic fares. In Canada, low-cost carriers and regional jets represent the industry's growth segments, and are continuing to gain market share. In 2002, low-cost airlines WestJet, Jetsgo, Canjet and Zip had 36 per cent of the market share in Canada, an increase of 20 per cent over 2000, and this number is expected to increase to 50 per cent or more in 2004 .

 "Carriers such as WestJet-and newer entrants Jetsgo and Canjet-have created a whole new industry category in Canada: the low-cost carrier," said Vancouver International Airport Authority President and CEO Larry Berg. "The airport's vision is to remain on the cutting edge of industry developments, and the A Pier renovation is another way we are changing our business to accommodate the new low-cost carrier model, while continuing to provide the same high level of service."

One of these accommodations is the addition of double-headed bridges on three of A Pier's five gates. These "over-the-wing" units will allow A Pier's primary tenant, WestJet, to unload their 737 aircraft from both front and rear doors. Passengers will be able to board or disembark the aircraft more quickly, allowing WestJet a faster turnaround at YVR.

WestJet is the most successful low-cost carrier in Canada, and in 2000 was the second most profitable airline in North America, just after Southwest Airlines. The airline currently serves nine destinations from Vancouver International Airport.

Through a partnership with Alliance Atlantis Communications, A Pier's WestJet departures area will include an Alliance Atlantis Screening Lounge-an airport first. Waiting passengers can enjoy a destination between destinations with onscreen entertainment featuring both the latest movie trailers and behind-the-scenes footage from Alliance Atlantis* Motion Picture Distribution LP's upcoming movie releases, and clips of shows from across Alliance Atlantis' broadcast channels.

This compilation of footage will run in a loop, ensuring that travellers will always have something to watch as they come and go with new, updated previews and clips being introduced every month. In addition, visitors to the lounge will have the on-going opportunity to win Alliance Atlantis movie passes and prizing.

As well as onscreen entertainment, waiting passengers can enjoy food and beverages at A Pier's new Palomino Bar, pick up reading material and snacks for their flight at the To Go! newsstand, or browse the various retail carts. A children's play area, designed by local company Straight Line Designs to resemble an English hedge maze, provides a fun place for children to amuse themselves while parents relax.

Low-cost carriers, like their customers, demand value, and the Airport Authority continues to provide that value, keeping costs down while offering the same high levels of service. Vancouver International Airport has the lowest landing and terminal fees of all major airports, and offers customers innovative services such as Food on the Fly, a program that allows passengers to purchase food for their flights from YVR merchants. YVR has also recently introduced a new common use lounge, the first of its kind in North America. Located in the International Terminal building, the lounge offers all passengers, regardless of airline or class of travel, a wide range of services and amenities for a low per-use fee.

Other renovations to A Pier include: new heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical systems, seismic upgrading and an interior and exterior design that matches the Domestic and International Terminal Buildings, and imparts an open and airy feel to the space.

Work on A Pier began November 2002, and its completion marks the latest of the Airport Authority's capital projects delivered on time and on budget. The Airport Authority's recently announced $1.4-billion capital program will ensure YVR continues to provide cutting edge facilities and services to meet the growing demand for low-cost, high-value air travel.

About Vancouver International Airport Authority

The Airport Authority is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that operates Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The second largest international passenger gateway on the West Coast of North America, YVR welcomed 14.3 million passengers in 2003.

For more information:

Ali Hounsell
Vancouver International Airport Authority

YVR Web Site www.yvr.ca