To celebrate the Vancouver Airport Authority's fifteenth anniversary, employees are being given their choice of a leather bag or jacket. But one consumer group thinks the authority should be spending that money on air travellers. In an interview with Public Eye, authority spokeswoman Sue Ross confirmed the bags and jackets are being purchased from Canadian clothing manufacturer Roots Canada Ltd. at below retail price. A final price tag wasn't available - although money isn't exactly an object for the not-for-profit organization. In 2006, it reported $392.9 million in revenue, with $92.6 million coming from airport improvement fees.
And that's why Consumer Association of Canada president Bruce Cran is taking issue with the authority's employee appreciation gifts. "I just find it extraordinary at a time when travellers are paying $15 a pop (in fees) that the authority would be taking an action like this. These people are paid good wages, I imagine, for what they're doing. And what would be the goal in this? It doesn't seem to make sense to me at all."
But it does make sense to authority community and environmental affairs vice-president Anne Murray, who says the gifts are money well-spent. "From my perspective, the only way to deliver a great airport for passengers and for the community is through hard work, a positive attitude and a real focus on customer service. And that is what we have in our employees...We're proud of their hard and we think it's important to recognize that," she explained, adding that the cost of the gifts isn't coming out of improvement fee revenues. In fact, those fees