Philippine Airlines shines in Vancouver

As other Flights in and out plummet
By Michael Kane

Traffic at Vancouver International Airport plummeted 16 per cent last month to 21,105 aircraft movements from 25,421 in January last year. That compares to a national drop of 12.9 per cent, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

After welcoming a record 17.85 million passengers last year — 350,000 more than in 2007 — Canada’s second-busiest airport is expecting a drop-off of about 4.5 per cent this year.

While a number of airlines have announced capacity reductions at YVR, others are expanding service for the spring and summer, said airport spokeswoman Kate Donegani.

Singapore Airlines said it is pulling out of Vancouver in April because of falling passenger volumes. However, Philippine Airlines is increasing flights to Manila from five to seven a week in March and China Eastern Airlines will offer daily service to Shanghai starting in June, up from three times a week.

Donegani said YVR was still tracking its own numbers for aircraft traffic in January, but a decline had been expected because of the economic downturn.

While fewer flights mean fewer landing fees, Donegani said the Vancouver Airport Authority is committed to to keeping its landing costs to the airlines as low as possible. It currently has the lowest landing fees of any major airport in Canada.

Nor does it anticipate raising its $15 airport improvement fee charged to most passengers.

“This airport and airports around the world are facing some challenges with the economy being what it is, but we’ve budgeted for that and anticipated some reduction in this year’s business,” Donegani said.

Most of the airport’s $1.4-billion expansion program will be completed this year and no financing difficulties are anticipated, she said. While the airport is trying to minimize costs, no layoffs are planned.

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