TF Spotlight: The remarkable milestones achieved by Airports through digitalisation
Digital transformation is creating a storm for the entire Logistics industry. How is digitisation adopted at the Vancouver Airport? What benefits are you reaping or intend to reap in the coming years?
YVR is expanding investment in modern technology with the acceleration of the digitisation of the supply chain, which has the potential to revolutionise the air cargo business. How we strengthen our business and cargo operations will be by leveraging digital technology to unlock data and insights that will help us gain efficiencies and streamline processes, the benefits of which will pass to cargo operators and our community. We want to use Cargo Community Systems and other forms of implementing emerging technologies to improve the efficiency of our assets like warehouses and roadways, reduce carbon emissions, and financially benefit our key stakeholders both in the cargo and the local community.
Traditionally, we viewed the addition of infrastructure to grow linearly to facilitate the expansion of cargo. We want to concurrently introduce the concept of improved efficiency of these assets as measured by increased velocity of goods movement and lower spoilage rates which can be a crucial part of our value proposition towards growing our market share and entrenching our position as a gateway between Asia and the Americas. There is also the opportunity to create digital trade lanes with partner Airports, especially in critical strategic trade lanes like Southeast Asia that have been enabled by the formalisation of free trade agreements towards which Canada has been very progressive.
Recently, the Vancouver Airport has achieved remarkable milestones, like acquiring certification as a Living Wage Employer and AA-credit rating for the third consecutive year. In times when talent shortage and financial stability are two important challenges the aviation industry is battling, your Airport is setting new benchmarks and industry-first initiatives to mitigate these issues. Tell us more about this.
The labour shortage issue is not only topical in the aviation space but across many industry sectors, as is well known. Having said that, a key contributor to supply chain congestion has been labour challenges and precisely the opportune time to introduce emerging technologies such as predictive analytics, robotics, drones, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. The Airport has a unique opportunity to implement these technologies both as a first-hand end user and, like in the Cargo Community, as a champion and facilitator for these technologies with our key stakeholders.
We are also focussing on being a fair and equitable employer. The Vancouver Airport Authority recently announced its certification as a Living Wage Employer, making Vancouver International Airport (YVR) the first Airport in Canada to achieve this designation. As a Living Wage Employer, the Airport Authority pays all six hundred of its direct employees at or higher than the designated living wage for Metro Vancouver, which is $20.52 per hour, including benefits. Furthermore, as of March 2023, all employees working for our direct service providers at the Airport, such as janitorial, building maintenance, landscaping, and traffic management contractors, will similarly be paid a living wage by their employer. We estimate this represents a further 1,600 employees across the YVR.
Local workers and families will benefit from earning a living wage at YVR as Canada’s economy continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Different from minimum wage, a living wage ensures a household, defined as two adults and two children, can meet basic expenses, as determined by Living Wage for Families BC.
Sustainability is now the boardroom topic for the entire Air cargo industry. How do you think can be promoted at the Airport level? What are the best practices followed at Vancouver Airport?
In 2021, the Vancouver Airport Authority announced its goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. That is an acceleration of our original goal (2050) by 20 years. Reducing carbon emissions is in our collective best interest. We know it is essential for the aviation industry to do what it can to reduce emissions as it still plays a vital role in a healthy economy, and that is the connection point in transferring goods, services, and people.
Work is underway to accomplish net zero emissions, and we are on track to reach net zero by 2030. The four decarbonisation pathways required to achieve our goal of net zero emissions are:
- Green Fleets: Right-sizing our vehicles to match operational requirements, electrification, and renewable fuels for mobile equipment.
- Building Conservation and Electrification: Meeting YVR’s operational requirements more efficiently and using less energy for heating/cooling, cooking, lighting, and other electrical loads. Switching from natural gas to electricity where possible.
- Renewable Fuels: YVR will invest 100% in green electricity and on-site solar, purchasing renewable natural gas for heating/cooling and acquiring renewable diesel for generators.
- Closing the Gap Purchasing carbon offsets, removals, and assessing business travel.
With these four pathways, our actions between now and 2030 will reduce both current and expected emissions. From the cargo side of the business, we see the digitalisation of the supply chain, electric trucks, and potentially the deployment of other forms of advanced air mobility as potential contributing aspects to reaching our sustainability goals and supporting our partners in theirs.