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What does a $20 airport improvement fee do that $15 couldn’t?
The thing about the airport is people think “Oh, you’re built. You’re done.” We’re never done because we have 18 million passengers this year and we’re trying to get to 25 million. Being able to move those people efficiently means we’re never done.
Shouldn’t it be about improving service for the people who already use it?
They’re not incompatible. Every time we build out the airport, we add more services. We don’t want to just get big; we want to be big and good.
As a fighter pilot, you’re trained to think in a very confined space. When you’re in the executive office, you’re not able to just reach for a switch and fix your problem. How does that factor into how you see your landscape?
You’re absolutely right. Single-seat pilot does it all. And I can’t even pretend that I can know what’s going on all the time. That’s why I depend on good people at all levels. If they make a mistake in any area, someone is there to back them up.
What was the best part of leaving YVR to head up the airport in Nassau?
Taking the values and ethos of Vancouver and instilling them in the people there. It was a very demoralized workforce, and we got them to act like a bit of YVR.
What aspects of Bahamian culture would you like to see more of at YVR?
Passion. When they get an idea in their head and they love something you better get out of their way. They will run you over, and they’re much more demonstrative and emotive than us laid-back Canadians. You know, there’s dancing at employee meetings.
What was the last thing you bought at the airport?
This tie. At Brooks Brothers.
What kind of person buys a tie at the airport?
A CEO who has been living out of luggage since January. I moved from the UK to Cyprus in January and then back in March to begin the process to come here.
Why is it important to be able to shop at the airport?
You can get your teeth cleaned here, you can get a massage, you can have a doctor’s appointment, you can drop off your dry cleaning and pick it up here. The one thing we’re missing is a Whole Foods or a Choices or an Urban Fare. It’s not impossible to think that could happen in the near future.
Did being a pilot make you a better CEO?
I haven’t flown since I left the air force. My wife is terrified of small airplanes. I’d have to do it on my own and we spend enough time apart.
You were CEO of Liverpool Airport, also known as John Lennon Airport. If we were to be named after a Beatle, who would it be?
He was very successful. Maybe not quite as showy or quite as controversial as Lennon, but certainly enduring. I actually think some of McCartney’s songs after the Beatles were more iconic. My favourite song is “Live and Let Die.” Which you would expect from a fighter pilot. And McCartney had Wings. Much more appropriate.