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Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal) or Montréal-Trudeau, formerly known as Montréal-Dorval International Airport, is located in the city of Dorval, on the Island of Montreal, from Montreal's downtown core. It is an international airport serving Greater Montreal, along with the regions of Northern Vermont and New York.

The airport is managed and operated by Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), a not-for-profit corporation without share capital. The airport is owned by Transport Canada, which has a 60-year lease with Aéroports de Montréal, as per Canada's National Airport Policy of 1994.

Trudeau is the busiest airport in the province of Quebec, the third busiest airport in Canada by passenger traffic (35th in North America), the fourth busiest airport in Canada by aircraft movements (50th in North America) with 12,406,387 passengers and 222,871 aircraft movements in 2007. It is one of eight Canadian airports with United States border preclearance and is one of the main gateways into Canada with 59% of its passengers being on non-domestic flights, the highest proportion amongst Canada's airports during 2007. It is one of four Air Canada hubs, and, in that capacity, serves mainly Quebec, the Atlantic Provinces and Eastern Ontario.

Airlines servicing Trudeau offer flights to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Europe, Mexico, the United States, and other destinations within Canada. It is the only Canadian airport that offers non-stop service to Africa and it also contains the second largest duty-free shop in North America and largest in Canada.

The airport is headquarters for Air Canada, the country's largest airline, and Air Transat, the country's largest charter airline, and was the headquarters of the now defunct Jetsgo. It also plays a role in general aviation as home to the headquarters of Innotech-Execair, Starlink, ACASS and Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facilities of Air Canada, Air Transat, MJet and ExcelTech.

Bombardier has an assembly facility on site to build Regional Jets and Challenger business jets.


Early days

The birth of Dorval Airport was in the 1940s. At the time, it was becoming clear that the Saint-Hubert Airport (Montreal's first official airport, in operation since 1927) could no longer meet the city's growing aviation needs. The Minister of Transport purchased the land at the Dorval Race Track, thus ensuring the best possible location for the new airport.

Montréal-Dorval International Airport went into operation on September 1, 1941 with three paved runways. By 1946, the airport was already hosting more than a quarter of a million passengers a year, growing to more than a million by the mid-1950s. It was primarily chosen as an airport because of good weather and few foggy days. During World War II thousands of Allied aircraft passed through Dorval on the way to England. At one time Dorval was the major transatlantic hub for commercial aviation and the busiest airport in Canada with airlines such as British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C) landing at Dorval en route to New York City.


In November 1960, the airport was renamed Aéroport international Dorval de Montréal. On December 15 of that year, the Minister of Transport inaugurated a new $30 million terminal. It was the largest terminal in Canada and one of the biggest in the world. Montréal-Dorval International Airport was the gateway to Canada for all European air traffic, serving more than two million passengers a year.

Eight years later, Montréal-Dorval International Airport underwent a major expansion program.

The Government of Canada predicted that Dorval would be completely saturated by 1985, and also projected that 20 million passengers would be passing through Montreal's airports annually. They decided to construct a new airport in Sainte-Scholastique (Montréal-Mirabel International Airport). As the first phase in the transition that would eventually see Dorval closed, international flights were to be transferred to the new airport in 1975.

The opening and closing of Mirabel Airport

On November 29, 1975, Montréal-Mirabel Airport went into service. With an operations zone of and a buffer zone of , it became the largest airport in the world. Many connecting flights to Canadian centres were transferred to Montréal-Mirabel and 23 international airlines moved their overseas activities there. As a consequence, the mission of Montréal-Dorval was redefined to encompass domestic flights and flights to the United States.

Dorval's traffic decreased due to the advent in the 1980s of longer-range jets that did not need to refuel in Montreal before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Montreal's economic decline in the late 1970s and 1980s had a significant effect on the airport's traffic, as international flights shifted away from Dorval to Toronto Pearson of more prosperous Toronto. Lastly, international airlines, faced with the stark economic reality of operating two Canadian points of entry, opted to overfly Montreal and land in Toronto with its better domestic and US connections.

The Trudeau government had developed Mirabel Airport to handle an expected growth in international traffic, and, eventually, to replace Dorval. That extra traffic never materialized, and due to its closer proximity to downtown Montreal, all scheduled air services have now returned to Dorval/Trudeau, while Mirabel has ceased passenger operations. Today, activity at Mirabel is limited to cargo and test-flights.

Back to Montreal-Dorval, renaissance

With all international scheduled flights going back to Montreal-Dorval in 1997, as well as charter flights in 2004, Montreal-Dorval International Airport was finally able to become a true hub, where passengers would not have to travel to different airports depending on the type of flight. The consolidation of flights to Montreal-Dorval resulted in an increase of passenger traffic, not only because of transfer of flights, but because of new connecting opportunities. In 2000, 9.4 million passengers used the airport at a time when the maximum capacity was 7 million. In 2007, the airport handled 12,407,934 passengers, a new record.

Statistics for Montreal-Trudeau Airport
Year Total Passengers % Increase
2001 8,168,559 ----
2002 7,816,053 -4.5%
2003 8,964,186 +14.6%
2004 10,335,768 +15.3%
2005 10,892,778 +5.4%
2006 11,441,202 +5.0%
2007 12,406,387 +8.4%
2008 (August) 8,619,890 +1.6%
2001-2007 70,018,302 ----

Passenger forecasts
Year Passengers
2008 12.8 million
2009 13.3 million
2010 13.7 million
2011 14.2 million
2012 14.6 million

Operation Yellow Ribbon

On September 11, 2001, Dorval participated in Operation Yellow Ribbon, taking in 10 diverted flights that had been bound for the closed airspace over the United States, even though pilots were asked to avoid the airport as a security measure.


The airport was renamed by the federal government in honour of former Canadian Prime Minister, the late Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, on January 1, 2004, the renaming having been announced in September the previous year by then Minister of Transport David Collenette. This move provoked some opposition, especially Quebec sovereignists opposed to some of the policies of the former prime minister, as well as opposition from many aviation historians and enthusiasts who recalled Trudeau's role as an opponent of the airport, planning to close it in favour of Mirabel Airport. Many Montrealers still refer to Trudeau airport as "Dorval," or "Dorval Airport."

Current public transport

Société de transport de Montréal (STM) route "204 Cardinal" (Map Schedule ) and route "356 Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue" night bus (Map Schedule) can take passengers to and from the Dorval bus terminus and train station which is within walking distance of the VIA's Dorval station. A shuttle bus runs between the airport and VIA's Dorval station. Another shuttle bus, operated by Groupe La Québécoise , runs between the airport and Station centrale d'autobus via Central Station (Montreal).


Terminal expansion

Montréal Trudeau underwent a major expansion and modernization designed to increase the terminal's capacity and substantially enhance the level of passenger service.

In February 2000, with a budget of C$716 million, ADM announced plans for an extensive expansion plan that would bring Montreal-Trudeau up to stardards with other North American airports its size. The airport terminal had for the most part remained the same, with the exception of minor renovations, since its opening in the 1960s. With increased passenger volume resulting from the transfer of international scheduled passengers from Mirabel Airport in 1997, as well as Air Canada's intentions to make Montreal-Dorval its Eastern Canada hub, there was a strong need to greatly expand the terminal, whose capacity of roughly 7 million passengers per year had been exceeded.

The expansion program included the construction of several brand-new facilities, including a jetty for flights to the United States (Transborder Terminal), another for overseas flights (International Terminal) and a huge international arrivals complex for passengers arriving in Canada from the U.S. and other international points of departure. A 17-gate Transborder Concourse, an 11-gate International Concourse, new Customs Hall and Baggage claim area for non-domestic flights, and an expanded parking garage, were built between 2000 and 2005. Additionally, sections of the Domestic area were renovated and expanded, accompanied with additional retail space.

The completion of the CAD$716 million expansion gives Montreal-Trudeau the ability to serve 20 million passengers a year. This ironically accomplished one of the goals that was to be met with the construction of Mirabel. (In the 1970s, the federal government projected that 20 million passengers would be passing through Montreal's airports annually by 1985, with 17 million through Mirabel).

Aéroports de Montréal financed all of these improvements itself, with no government grants. By the end of 2007, $1.5 billion had been spent to upgrade Montreal-Trudeau.

Other Projects

Starting in 2006, ADM began the next process of land access to upgrade road traffic to the airport, a new parking garage, and the improvement of the domestic terminal.

On June 15, 2006 construction began on a new four-star Marriott hotel at the airport. It will be linked to the Transborder Terminal and should be completed by winter 2008. It will eventually contain an underground train station to connect it with downtown Montreal for quick access as well as ADM's corporate headquarters, currently located in downtown Montreal.

On November 30, 2006, ADM announced plans to relocate numerous hangars at the western part of the airport in order to expand the Transborder and International terminals. Although still unclear how many new gates will be added, construction is slated to begin with the removal of hangars in 2007. Trudeau Airport is only capable of handling 15 million passengers a year, which it's expected to hit by 2014 at the latest. New facilities are desperately needed even though the entire expansion process hasn't even been completed yet. ADM's target for passenger capacity is 20 million a year.

Dorval interchange

Aéroports de Montréal, the City of Montreal, Transports Québec and Transport Canada are planning to improve the Dorval interchange and build direct road links between the airport and highways 20 and 520. Once the certificate of authorization has been obtained, work is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2008 and end in 2012. The project will entail redesigning the roads network within the airport site.

Rail shuttle between Montréal-Trudeau and downtown Montreal

Aéroports de Montréal is planning to introduce an express rail shuttle service to accelerate access to the airport from the downtown core. This long shuttle, with departures every 20 minutes, would make the trip in under 20 minutes. To this end, Transport Canada, ADM, VIA Rail, and the Agence métropolitaine de transport (Metropolitan Transit Agency) have jointly developed a wide-ranging proposal that includes the enhancement of commuter train and inter-city train service between Central Station and the West Island of Montreal. If this project comes to fruition, it may see a dedicated passenger rail corridor be developed alongside the freight corridors of Canadian National Railway (CN) or Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).

Airbus A380

The last round of construction improved Montréal-Trudeau so that it is prepared to handle the new Airbus A380. Air France will be the first operator of the type in Montreal and will use gate 55, which is equipped with two air bridges to load and unload passengers on both decks of the A380 simultaneously. Air France had scheduled its first A380 flight for mid-November 2007; the Airbus-marked aircraft (MSN007) took off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and landed at Montréal–Trudeau on November 12 2007 with some 500 guests aboard. It left Montreal on November 13 to go to Orlando International Airport in Florida (United States). It returned to Montreal on November 15, continuing to Paris on the same day, and then back to its Toulouse base.

Terminals and destinations

Some 40 airlines offer services to more than 120 regular and seasonal destinations worldwide.

International Concourse

  • Air Algérie (Algiers)
  • Air Canada (Bridgetown, Cancun, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Frankfurt, Holguin, London-Heathrow, Mexico City, Montego Bay, Nassau, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Pointe-à-Pitre, Port-au-Prince, Providenciales, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Santa Clara, St Lucia [begins December 22, 2008] , Varadero)
  • Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle)
  • Air Saint-Pierre (Saint-Pierre)
  • Air Transat (Acapulco, Athens, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Brussels, Camaguey, Cancun, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Dublin, Holguin, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, La Romana, Lisbon, London-Gatwick, Lyon, Madrid, Malaga, Managua, Manchester (UK), Marseille, Montego Bay, Mulhouse-Basel, Nantes, Nice, Panama City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Porlamar, Port-au-Prince, Porto, Puerto Plata, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Rome-Fiumicino, Samana, San Jose, Santa Clara, San Andres Islands, San Salvador, St. Maarten, Toulouse, Varadero, Venice [starts May 8, 2009], Vienna)
  • British Airways (London-Heathrow)
  • CanJet (Aruba, Holguin, Cayo Coco, Manzanillo, Samana, Varadero)
  • Corsairfly (Paris-Orly) [seasonal]
  • Cubana de Aviación (Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Havana, Holguin, Manzanillo de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Varadero)
  • EgyptAir (Cairo) [seasonal]
  • JetX Airlines (Reykjavik-Keflavík) [seasonal]
  • KLM (Amsterdam)
  • Lufthansa (Munich) [seasonal]
  • Mexicana (Mexico City)
  • Olympic Airlines (Athens)
  • Royal Air Maroc (Casablanca)
  • Royal Jordanian (Amman)
  • SATA International (Lisbon, Ponta Delgada)
  • Skyservice (Bahias de Huatulco, Cancun, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Holguin, La Romana, Montego Bay, Puerto Plata, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Samana, Santa Clara/Cayo Santa Maria, Varadero, Venice)
  • Sunwing Airlines (Acapulco, Camaguey, Cancun, Cayo Coco, Cienfuegos, Cozumel, Havana, Holguin, La Romana, Manzanillo de Cuba, Montego Bay, Panama City, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Puerto Vallarta, San Juan, Santiago de Cuba, Santo Domingo, Varadero)
  • Swiss International Air Lines (Zürich)
  • Thomas Cook Airlines (London-Gatwick) [seasonal]
  • Transaero (Moscow-Domodedovo)
  • WestJet (Camaguey, Cancun, Fort-de-France [seasonal], La Ceiba [seasonal], Montego Bay, Pointe-à-Pitre [seasonal], Santo Domingo [seasonal], San Salvador, St. Maarten [seasonal], Varadero)

Transborder Concourse (US)

Domestic Concourse

  • Air Canada (Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, St. John's (NL), Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver, Winnipeg)
    • Air Canada Jazz (Bagotville, Baie-Comeau, Bathurst, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Halifax, Magdalen Islands, Moncton, Mont-Joli, Ottawa, Quebec City, Rouyn-Noranda, Saint John (NB), Sydney (NS), Thunder Bay, Toronto-Pearson, Val-d'Or, Wabush)
  • Air Creebec (Chibougamau, Nemiscau, Roberval, Val-d'Or)
  • Air Georgian (Moncton)
  • Air Inuit (Kuujjuarapik, La Grande, Puvirnituq, Quebec City, Salluit)
  • Air Labrador (Goose Bay, Quebec City, Sept-Îles, St. John's, Wabush)
  • First Air (Iqaluit, Kuujjuaq)
  • Porter Airlines (Mont Tremblant [seasonal], Toronto-City Centre)
  • Provincial Airlines (Sept-Îles, Wabush)
  • Sunwing Airlines (Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver)
  • WestJet (Calgary, Edmonton [seasonal], Halifax [seasonal], Toronto-Pearson, Winnipeg, Vancouver)

Irregular Charters

Some airlines have charter flights servicing Montréal every so often. These cannot be considered scheduled charter flights because they are not frequent and are not sold to varying travel dates.


Air Canada has three Maple Leaf Lounges at Montreal-Trudeau: 1 in the Domestic Jetty, 1 in the Transborder Jetty, and 1 in the International Jetty. Air France has a lounge in the international jetty, on the higher level, at gate B55, their A380 gate.


Former airlines

In the past, this airport was also served by:

  • Czech Airlines (Prague)
  • Eastern Air Lines (Ottawa, New York/Newark, Philadelphia)
  • Eastern Provincial Airways
  • Ecuatoriana (New York-JFK, Quito, Guayaquil)
  • El Al (Geneva, Mexico City, Tel Aviv)
  • Finnair (Helsinki)
  • Iberia (Madrid)
  • Jaro International (Bucharest-Baneasa)
  • Jat Airways (Belgrade)
  • Jetsgo
  • Khalifa Airways
  • Ladeco (Santiago de Chile)
  • Lan Chile (now LAN Airlines) (Santiago de Chile)
  • LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
  • Malév Hungarian Airlines (Budapest)
  • Mohawk Airlines
  • Nolisair
  • Nordair
  • Northeast Airlines
  • Pan Am (Miami, New York-JFK)
  • Peoplexpress Airlines
  • Piedmont Airlines
  • Royal Aviation
  • Sabena (Brussels, Mexico City)
  • SAHSA (Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Miami)
  • Scandinavian Airlines System (Cophehagen, Stockholm)
  • Swissair (now Swiss International Air Lines) (Zurich)
  • Tango Airlines
  • TAP Portugal (Lisbon)
  • TAROM (Bucharest-Otopeni)
  • Trans World Connection
  • Trump Shuttle
  • Varig (Sao Paulo)
  • ValuJet Airlines
  • Wardair
  • Zip
  • Zoom Airlines (Cancun, London-Gatwick, Orlando, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Rome-Fiumicino, Santo Domingo, Varadero)
  • Incidents and accidents

    • November 29, 1963: Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 831 crashed shortly after departure for Toronto, killing all 118 people on board the Douglas DC-8 jet.
    • June 2, 1982: a Douglas DC-9 jet exploded during a maintenance period in Montreal. No deaths.
    • July 23, 1983: Air Canada Flight 143, a Boeing 767 flight originating in Dorval, made an emergency landing in Gimli, Manitoba after running out of fuel. No one was injured, and the incident became known as the Gimli Glider.
    • On May 13, 2006, the FAA refused permission for Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight BG011 en route from Dhaka to New York City to enter US airspace, citing safety concerns over the ailing DC-10 aircraft being used on the route. As a result the flight was diverted to Trudeau Airport where the passengers were provided with alternative airline options to complete their journey.
    • August 10, 2006: Air Canada flight 865 to Montreal was among the seven planes allegedly targeted in a massive bomb plot that was being planned in Britain. Air Canada Flight 865 that leaves at 3:15 p.m. for Montreal was canceled that day. All were to be detonated simultaneously as the planes crossed the Atlantic Ocean carrying between 240 and 285 people each. The aircraft being an Airbus A330-300.
    • September 23, 2007: Air Canada Flight 155 out of Trudeau Airport was forced to return because of a problem with the landing gear hydraulics. The flight was heading for Calgary. About forty minutes into the flight, the pilots discovered the hydraulics problem and returned to the airport. It made a heavy landing and a hard stop, resulting in the gear catching fire. Emergency crews extinguished the flames. All 121 passengers and five crew were evacuated from the aircraft without incident or injury.
    • August 26, 2008: An Air France Flight 346 a Boeing 747 was making a landing at the airport when it skidded off the runway and got stuck in the grass. The flight originated from Paris-Charles de Gaulle. This was very similar to the August 2, 2005 crash in Toronto. All of the 490 passengers on board escaped with no injury.

    See also


    External links

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