YVR welcomes new leader
July 5, 2013, Richmond, B.C. - YVR conducted a global search for its new CEO, ultimately reaching half-way around the world to tap a home-grown alumnus for the position.
July 5, 2013 By Paul Dixon
July 5, 2013, Richmond, B.C. – YVR conducted a global search for its new
CEO, ultimately reaching half-way around the world to tap a home-grown
alumnus for the position. Craig Richmond was only a few months into a new position as CEO of Larnaka International and Pafos International Airports in Cyprus. A native of British Columbia, the 51-year old Richmond has aviation in his DNA, earning his pilot’s license before his driver’s license. During 10 years in the Canadian Forces he racked up 3,000 hours on CF-104 and CF-18 fighters, then moved on to the University of Manitoba for his MBA. He joined YVR as vice president of operations in 1995, then, in 2006, moved to the Vantage Airport Group, which manages airports around the world. Terms as CEO of airports in the Bahamas and the U.K. preceded his move to Cyprus and now his return to YVR.
Richmond inherits an airport that out-going CEO Larry Berg has built into one of the top-ranked airports in the world, through innovation and a focus on providing a superior experience to those passing through YVR. The challenges to YVR today are the external forces that have a large impact on the airport’s business model. Originally Canada’s gateway to the Pacific, recent developments in aircraft technology have seen an increasing number of extended-range flights overflying Vancouver en route to Toronto, Chicago and New York. YVR’s response has been to court business from “secondary” cities in Asia, which has resulted in scheduled direct flights between more cities in China and YVR than any other airport in North America.
In his introductory press conference, Richmond identified two challenges facing YVR that he has firmly in his sights: the increasing number of Vancouver-area travellers who are choosing to cross the border to fly from airports in Bellingham or Seattle and the relationship between the Canadian government and Canadian airport operators. The exodus of travellers to American airports and airlines is a direct result of the financial burden placed on Canadian airports by the government, through the imposition of a fee structure and security costs that American airports are not saddle with. It is a large factor in creating what the Air Transport Association of Canada has termed this country’s “missing airport” – the five million Canadians who choose to fly from the U.S. every year. Though as Richmond said, it’s difficult to compete with airports and air carriers who market themselves as low-cost because YVR sees itself as a high-value airport.
Richmond is upset by Emirates’ decision to operate a non-stop route direct to Dubai out of Seattle rather than Vancouver, saying, “it really bugs me.” The opportunity to establish a connection with one of the world’s emerging megahubs is lost and from his perspective it was a direct result of the federal government’s air policy, of which he says, “you can bet that’s going to be a big focus of my time.”
Some kids dream of being firefighters, cowboys, rock stars or wizards. All Craig Richmond wanted to do was be around aircraft and as he says himself, how many children are lucky enough to have they job they always wanted? Welcome home.