Tag Archives: Airport

Aéroport international Montréal-Mirabel

20 Jun


Mirabel’s sad story is a tale of planning mistakes and political paralysis.1 Originally conceived as the airport of Montréal’s future it had been designed by city planners to handle a projected 6.8 million people initially with an eventual planned capacity of 50 million by 2025.2 3 When the airport was finally closed to passengers in 2004 it saw less than 800,000 pass through its doors.

Inaugurated in 1975 the airport was the largest in the world in terms of surface area for close to a quarter of a century.  Mirabel was envisioned during the economic upsurge that Montréal experienced during the 1960s. It was during this time that the city hosted the Expo ‘67 World’s Fair and opened its Metro system. Historically Montréal had been Canada’s commercial centre but even as the airport opened its doors the city was about to be overtaken by its neighbour Toronto.

During the time of Mirabel’s conception planners intended to capitalise on Montréal’s position as an aviation hub which was boosted by the airlines’ need for a refuelling stop en-route to west coast destinations. The 1973 OPEC oil crisis, the advent of longer range jets, Montréal’s relative economic decline in contrast to Toronto’s rise and the failure of the government to provide adequate transport links between Mirabel and the city all contributed to the project’s failure.

In the rush to get the airport open in time for the Olympics, it was decided to transfer flights to Mirabel [from Dorval airport] in two stages.4 This meant that for travellers wishing to transfer between international and domestic flights they would have to make a trip across the city to Dorval, and for Montréalers to travel miles out of the city to catch their flights. Adequate transport links were never provided. A huge underground docking area was factored into blueprints to accommodate high-speed electric trains that would ferry passengers to and from Dorval and downtown Montréal. Known as “le TRRAMM,” the quarter-mile long underground corridor stretches the full length of the terminal’s southern flank.5 The trains never came nor did the passengers. © To Your Arms, 2010