Mirabel International Airport, a ghost airport

For my english readers, the same message as last sunday...but in english (this is an exercice given to me by my teacher).

When you come to Montreal, you usally go the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. This is the most famous airport and it’s really close to the town. We can even say, it’s in the middle of the town.
There are other airports, but not the same sinze as Trudeau (for example Saint-Hubert).

However, if you have the possibility to drive north-west of the city, maybe you’ll discover a huge building in the middle of the countryside : the Mirabel International Airport.

First of all, if you don’t know this airport’s history (like me, before I started to research), you have many reasons to be surprised.
We saw a tower and a few buildings during a walk in the country. At the beginning we were surprised. So we decided to drive in this direction and then we realized : this is an airport !

We were surprised to find one, here, in the middle of a no-mans-land. First, nobody told us and second, there isn’t a direct and easy route to Montreal.
When we saw this airport, a huge airport, we expected to see lots of traffic. But, no ! There were a few cars, but not very many !

And finally, the hotels close to the airport weren’t really pretty and in bad shape (closed curtains, broken windows,…).

This is just a small description of this airport.

If you want more information don’t hesitate to look at this website :


With the progressive augmentation of planes, the Canadian government decided to find a solution to develop the air traffic to and from Montreal. The first problem was where to put the airport. The Quebec government and the Canadian government didn’t have the same opinion so finally, they made the decision to build a new airport in Mirabel. This is a place in the middle of the countryside, not really far from Ottawa (maybe one and half hours by car).

In 1969, the government bought 96 500 acres (at a low price from the farmers) to build this airport. Clearly, if all the land was used, The Mirabel International Airport would be the biggest airport in the world. In comparison, The Charles de Gaulle Airport has an area of 7 900 acres…

Mirabel was finished and inaugurated in 1975 and it cost 500 million dollars. The airport is composed of 2 runways and 1 terminal and they hoped to increase the traffic to 40 millions passengers.


There were many different problems, and the first one was distance. The airport isn’t really far from the city of Montreal, but there isn’t a direct route between Montreal and Mirabel.

On the map (see sunday's message), I circled and marked four things :

• At the top : the Mirabel Airport
• In the middle, in orange, the interchange between the 640 and the 13
• At the bottom : the Pierre Elliott Trudeau AirPort
• On the right, with the letter A, downtown Montreal

So, to :

• go downtown from Mirabel, we’ve got to drive 50 kilometers
• go downtown from Trudeau, we’ve got to drive 20 kilometers

Initially, the interstate 13 which begins at Trudeau / Dorval would have continued to The Mirabel Airport, but they stopped the project at the Interchange. So, today, there isn’t a direct highway between Montreal and Mirabel.

Another problem: they built a train station under the airport but they couldn’t connect it with the rails. So, there is a train station, but no trains can go to the airport…

To conclude, the last problem was the manager’s decision to separate the international flights and the local flights (including USA). The Canadian and American flights were in Trudeau and the others at Mirabel Airport. With this situation, there was no advantage for carriers (like Air France and Air Canada) because Mirabel wasn’t directly connected to touristic attractions.

So, for 20 years the international flights to and from Montreal were in Mirabel. However, in 1997, the Montreal Airports Management Company (ADM) decided to transfer all the flights to Trudeau due to these reasons.


Soon, carriers progressively left Mirabel and the last flight was operated in October 2004. Since 2004, The International Mirabel Airport is just a cargo airport and all buildings are in bad shape. A few hotels welcome soldiers, a runway was transformed into a racing circuit and the terminal was temporarily used for the movie The Terminal with Tom Hanks.

For awhile , they’ve thought about restarting the air traffic in Mirabel. For this project, they’ve got to develop the rail system and dig a tunnel under the runways to connect the train station. Initially, the expenses were very high and after a few years, they stopped operations. Today, the population isn’t really supportive of this idea.

In 1985 and 2006, a part of the fields bought by the government were sold and now, the area is 5 900 acres (in yellow on this map).

1 commentaire:

  1. very good job. i think you should translate your whole blog in english :)


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