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YVR boss got big pay raise in 2022, despite end-of-year debacle

Pre-Christmas snowstorms brought YVR to a standstill and delayed hundreds of flights in late 2022
A photo taken at YVR on Dec. 23, 2022. Pre-Christmas snowstorms caused significant delays at the airport | Submitted

The Vancouver Airport Authority’s chief executive saw her pay packet grow by 42 per cent in 2022, despite ending the year in damage control after a series of pre-Christmas snowstorms brought YVR to a standstill.

The annual compensation report, published before Monday’s annual meeting, showed Tamara Vrooman’s total pay grew from $1.34 million in 2021 to $1.9 million in 2022.

Vrooman was paid a $597,400 base in 2022 and eligible for almost $830,000 in performance incentives to be paid out in 2023. She charged $33,950 for club memberships, a health spending account, car allowance, car maintenance and parking. YVR also made $442,250 in contributions to Vrooman’s retirement and pension plans. 

The airport authority did not disclose the salaries of other individual executives, but the report said they were paid an average $262,686 in base salary, up from $255,288 in 2021. Including incentives, perquisites and retirement plan contributions, the total executive pay package averaged $490,102, up from $414,064. There were 10 senior executives profiled in the annual sustainability report.

YVR paid $418,467 in severance to an undisclosed number of departed executives in 2022. The 2021 total severance was $257,768.

According to audited financial statements through Dec. 31, 2022, YVR reported $492.3 million in revenue and $482.8 million in expenses, for a $9.48 million surplus on operations. This was a turnaround from 2021, when it lost $141.5 million during widespread pandemic travel restrictions.

It collected $156.9 million in airport improvement user fees in 2022, up from $56.1 million.

The not-for-profit corporation operates on land leased from the federal government. In 2022, it recorded $50.8 million in ground lease costs.

The airport boasts 26,000 workers and 52 air carriers that serve 111 destinations. It saw 19 million passengers come and go in 2022, up from 7.1 million in 2021, and 302,572 tonnes of cargo moved, up nine per cent. Between January and August of 2022, passenger numbers grew a whopping 168 per cent.

“We saw a huge bounce back in our passenger numbers,” Vrooman said. "We started the year with COVID restrictions in place. We ended the year without those COVID restrictions in place.”

On April 17, YVR released an after-action review of the pre-Christmas tarmac delays, terminal congestion, lost luggage and communication breakdowns.

It said 1,300 of 4,100 scheduled flights were cancelled between Dec. 18 and 24, affecting more than 180,000 passengers. Two-dozen planes were stuck on the tarmac for more than four hours, including one that was stranded for 11 hours.

had scheduled 10 minutes for public questions during the AGM, but the segment ended in 19 minutes. Regardless, a member of the public complained.

“Questions from the public and online used to be more than 10 minutes. In fact, last year they were an hour, and a year before that they were probably an hour and a half,” the man said. “I’d like to express a concern about a restriction on the opportunity for people who take the time to come to this meeting to ask the questions that they feel that they need answers for.”

Vrooman diplomatically agreed with the man.

“Definitely happy to make more time available for questions if we have more questions coming out,” she said before the meeting ended at 2 p.m., almost an hour after it began.