You may not have known this, but every time you fly from YVR to anywhere outside B.C. you’re paying an Airport Improvement Fee (AIF). As of January 2020, these fees will be going up. The increased fees at YVR will kick in at the beginning of the new year, and continue indefinitely. Craig Richmond, President & CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority announced today that the AIF will go from $20 to $25 to support the airport’s long-term financial wellbeing.
This increase will only impact passengers flying from Vancouver Airport to destinations outside of B.C. According to a media release sent to Narcity, YVR’s Airport Improvement Free will still be one of the lowest in the eight major Canadian airports. The $23 fee at the Ottawa International Airport is the only one lower than YVR's. Though Craig Richmond acknowledges that this price increase may not be a popular decision, he said in a written statement that it is completely necessary. “If we took away the AIF, YVR wouldn’t be able to keep up,” he wrote.
As you can imagine, airports have substantial operational costs. According to the media release, YVR doesn’t receive government funding to offset these costs. Therefore, they depend on earnings and the AIF for the upkeep of infrastructures such as runways and terminals.
According to the news release, roughly a third of the airport’s revenue comes from the Improvement Fee. The fee is paid through the airlines when a passenger books their flight. As of Dec. 12, 2019, airlines will start charging the new rate for all travel in 2020 onwards.
Without the AIF “infrastructure would wear down, the passenger experience would decline, people would choose other airports,” Richmond explained. YVR has cashed in $2.2 billion from the AIF since it began in 1993 and spent $3.7 billion on capital projects during the same time.
Clearly, the airport needs a little more pocket change. Unfortunately, that change will be coming directly from the pockets of the passengers. Though an extra $5 may not hurt for some, it may have an impact on those who are already reaching beyond their budgets to fly.
If you love YVR and you’re willing to front some cash to keep it tip-top, this won’t be a big deal to you. But if you’re traveling on a boot-strap budget, the extra fees may hurt a little. After the Swoop investigations and other airline drama recently, maybe a road trip is a better option.