RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) — As air travel grinds to a halt due to COVID-19, Vancouver International Airport’s CEO is predicting nearly 13,000 people will lose their jobs–at least temporarily.
Approximately 26,000 people work for hundreds of employers on Sea Island, according to YVR President and CEO Craig Richmond.
“No person or industry has been spared,” he said in a video posted to Twitter Friday.
“I don’t take these numbers lightly because I know the value that each person brings to YVR. Losing your job brings such an uncertain time. Even if it’s temporary, it can be overwhelming. To every airport worker, please know, we’re doing everything in our power to support your eventual return –as are local, provincial and federal governments.”
Richmond said the COVID-19 crisis is has been devastating for the industry and the economy.
We are facing our biggest challenge ever and the state of the airport impacts everybody. YVR CEO Craig Richmond has an important update to share with the community that you all should watch. pic.twitter.com/6Erb6xJZ9h
— Vancouver International Airport (YVR) (@yvrairport) March 27, 2020
“It’s an overused word but it’s the only one that’s appropriate–unprecedented. I don’t think anybody has ever seen anything like this especially in the modern world and commercial aviation,” he said.
During a regular March break, the airport would see about 70,000 people passing through it each day. That number has plummeted as low as 10,000 and is set to fall even further. Richmond attributes daily traffic to people trying to get home–either to Canada or from Canada to other countries. He predicts flights to the U.S. and international flights will soon drop to “near-zero.”
But he remains optimistic.
“I’m very convinced that it’s going to come roaring back. It’s such a part of our civilization that it’s going to come back hard when this pandemic is over. We’re going to do everything we can to be ready to go and to go very fast when flying comes back,” he aid.
He says a multi-billion dollar expansion of YVR is also on hold, so that means up to four thousand construction workers will be laid off for at least two weeks.
Richmond was supposed to step down as CEO this year, but he’s agreed to stay on –at the board’s request– to help make the transition as smooth as possible for his successor.
He said even if commercial flights cease entirely, the airport will remain open to ensure the critical movement of goods, medicine, and people.