July/August 2020 – Facing the Music

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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ON THE RADAR ( the informer ) RAY SHIPKA W hen Geoff Dickson entered the avia- tion world 35 years ago, it was, he recalls, "quite a challenging time." The federal government had just launched airline deregulation, and Dickson—hired as a financial analyst for Pacific Western Airlines—was helping the company shift from a "cost plus" structure to one where pricing and yield management were king. Amalgamation in this new Wild West came fast and furi- ous: Pacific Western purchased Canadian Pacific and became Canadian Airlines, before being swallowed whole by Air Canada in 2000. "It was a chaotic busi- ness, and the margins were skinny," Dickson remembers. Challenging might also de- scribe the time he's in now, too. Dickson has been president and CEO of the Victoria Airport Au- thority since January 2011. Last year, traffic at Canada's 11th- busiest airport topped 1.9 mil- lion passengers—up 27 percent from when Dickson started —with Victoria International ( YYJ) named one of CNN Travel's "10 most loved airports in the world" in 2017. But as of mid- March, activity at Victoria, like many airports across Canada, has ground to a halt. "Typically, we have 5,000 to 6,000 passengers a day go through the airport, and we im- mediately dropped to 1,000," Dickson says. "By the time March was over, our business was down 50 percent year-over- year. Through the month of April, we were down 98 percent year-over-year. Just staggering." For 2020, he's projecting rev- enue will drop 75 percent. Bumpy Skies COVID has forced airlines to park their planes and wait for travel restrictions to be lifted—and consumer demand to rebound. Meanwhile, B.C. airports plan for a post-pandemic future by Matt O'Grady AV I AT ION JULY/AUGUST 2020 BCBUSINESS 15 WINGING IT Victoria International Airport is projecting a 75-percent revenue drop this year HOME AND AWAY From passengers to carriers, Victoria and Vancouver airports cater to different jet sets 2019 passengers DOMESTIC TRANSBORDER INTERNATIONAL Airlines serving each airport YYJ 86% YVR 48% YYJ 12% YVR 24% YYJ 2% YVR 28% SOURCES: VICTORIA AIRPORT AUTHORITY, VANCOUVER AIRPORT AUTHORITY 56 VANCOUVER 9 VICTORIA

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