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Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport ( ) or Montréal-Trudeau, formerly known as Montréal-Dorval International Airport, is located in the city of Dorvalmarker, on the Island of Montrealmarker, from Montrealmarker's downtown core. It is an International Airport serving Greater Montreal, along with the regions of northern Vermontmarker and New Yorkmarker.

The airport is one of two managed and operated by Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), a not-for-profit corporation without share capital; the other airport is Montréal-Mirabelmarker northwest of Montreal, which was initially intended to replace the one in Dorval but now deals almost solely with cargo. Montréal-Trudeau 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 Quebecmarker, the third busiest airport in Canada by passenger traffic and fourth busiest by aircraft movements, with 12,813,199 passengers and 225,219 aircraft movements in 2008. It is one of eight Canadian airports with United States border preclearance and is one of the main gateways into Canada with 7,535,232 or 58.8% of its passengers being on non-domestic flights, the highest proportion amongst Canada's airports during 2008. It is one of four Air Canada hubs, and, in that capacity, serves mainly Quebec, the Atlantic Provincesmarker and Eastern Ontario.

Airlines servicing Trudeau offer flights to Africa, Asia, the Caribbeanmarker, Central America, Europe, Mexicomarker, the United Statesmarker, 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 and large Hub for Air Canada, the country's largest airline, Air Transat, the country's largest charter airline, and Air Inuit. It is also a hub for CanJet, Sunwing Airlines and Skyservice. 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. Transport Canada operates a Civil Aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility on site, with a fleet of Government owned and operated civil aircraft. Bombardier Aerospace has an assembly facility on site to build regional jets and Challenger business jets.


Terminal of Trudeau Airport

Early days

The birth of Dorval Airport was in the 1940s. At the time, it was becoming clear that the Saint-Hubert Airportmarker (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, as RCAF Station Lachine 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 Englandmarker. 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 Citymarker.


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.
Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

The opening and closing of Mirabel Airport

On November 29, 1975, Montréal-Mirabel International Airportmarker 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 Oceanmarker. 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 Pearsonmarker, which serves the larger urban centre of Torontomarker. 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 United States 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 ceased passenger operations in 2004. In May 2007, it was reported that the International Center of Advanced Racing had signed a 25 year lease with Aéroports de Montréal to use part of the airport as a race track. At the same time fixed base operator, Hélibellule, opened a facility at the site to cater for the private jets that were expected. The company also provides a passenger service from Mirabel to destinations in Canada and the United States. They operate three different types of helicopters; Bell 222, Robinson R22 and Aérospatiale Gazelle.

Back to Montréal-Dorval, renaissance

With all international scheduled flights going back to Montréal-Dorval in 1997, as well as charter flight in 2004, Montréal-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 Montréal-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 12,817,882 passengers, a new record. The 2009 year-to-date numbers are for the first nine months of the year.
Passenger statistics for Montréal-Trudeau Airport
Year Total Passengers % change Domestic % change International % change Transborder % change
2001 8,168,559 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
2002 7,816,053 -4.5% ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
2003 8,964,186 +14.6% ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
2004 10,335,768 +15.3% 4,322,145 ---- 3,162,534 ---- 2,851,089 ----
2005 10,892,778 +5.4% 4,446,976 2.9% 3,461,371 9.4% 2,984,431 4.7%
2006 11,441,202 +5.0% 4,653,599 4.6% 3,708,264 7.1% 3,079,339 3.2%
2007 12,817,882 +12.0% 5,393,511 15.9% 4,245,620 14.5% 3,178,751 3.2%
2008 12,813,199 -0.0% 5,277,967 -2.1% 4,466,400 5.2% 3,068,832 -3.5%
Total (2001-2008) 83,249,627 24,094,198 19,044,189 15,162,442
2009 (YTD) 9,435,985 -5.5% 3,629,996 -10.6% 3,637,958 2.3% 2,168,031 -8.4%

Operation Yellow Ribbon

On September 11, 2001, Trudeau participated in Operation Yellow Ribbon, taking in 7 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. Mirabel International Airportmarker also took in 10 other diverted flights totaling 17 diverted flight in the Montreal area bound of american cities.


Montréal-Trudeau with Air Canada's headquarters in background.
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

The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) presently has three bus routes serving Trudeau International Airport, including route "204 Cardinal" seven days a week, route "209 Sources" Monday to Friday, and route "356 Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue" night bus. All three routes can take passengers to and from the Dorval bus terminus and train station which is within walking distance of the VIA's Dorval stationmarker. 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 downtown Montreal to the Central Bus Stationmarker and Metro Berri-UQAMmarker.


Terminal expansion (2000-2005)

The International Arrivals Complex
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 Montréal-Trudeau up to standard 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 Montréal-Dorval its Eastern Canadamarker 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 18-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 Montréal-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 Montréal-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 30 November 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

Future Montréal-Trudeau train station located under the new Marriott hotel.
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 20marker and 520. Once the certificate of authorization has been obtained, work begun in June 2009 with a potential end date of 2013. The project will entail redesigning the roads network within the airport site .

Rail shuttle to 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 Downtown Montreal and the West Islandmarker of Montreal. The basic plans of the project, including price and choice of final downtown destination (either Lucien L'Alliermarker train station or Gare Centralmarker) will be made in the fall of 2009, with an expected end date for the entire project between 2013 and 2015.

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 Airportmarker and landed at Montréal–Trudeau on 12 November 2007 with some 500 guests aboard. It left Montreal on 13 November to go to Orlando International Airportmarker in Floridamarker (United States). It returned to Montreal on 15 November, continuing to Parismarker on the same day, and then back to its Toulousemarker base.

New hotel, expansion and modernization

On June 15, 2006, construction began on a new four-star Marriott hotel at the airport, above the transborder terminal. Originally scheduled to be completed by September 2008, the 279 first-class room hotel has opened its doors since the 19th of August 2009. Construction was slowed down because of the recession and a collapse in the Transborder market. It will eventually contain an underground train station to connect it with downtown Montreal as well as ADM's corporate headquarters, currently located in downtown Montreal.

On the same day, Montreal-Trudeau airport has opened the doors to the refurbished, expanded, modernized and user-friendly transborder terminal, meeting the industry's highest standards. This terminal now sees his total area expanded from 9,320 m² to 18,122 m². This brand new terminal is equipped with a new baggage sorting room, among the most sophisticated in the world, allowing custom officers to recall luggage to further inspect.[35210] Video of the new transborder terminal.

Passenger Concourses

The Airport is divided into three concourse A, B and C, each one used for passenger traffic heading to certain areas. Concourse A is the Domestic terminal and holds 26 gates: 1-12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27-30, 32, 34, 47-49.

The International concourse is B and it holds traffic of those airlines traveling other then Canada or the United States. In 2008, the airport handled just under 4.5 million passenger on international flights, making it the 2nd busiest airport in Canada in terms of international passenger traffic, excluding transborder flights. However, if transborder flights were included Montreal would be 3rd busiest, after Vancouver Internationalmarker.

The International terminal holds 13 gates: 50-53A, 53B-61. Finally Concourse C is dedicated to U.S bound flights. It holds 18 gates: 72-89.

Airlines and destinations

Some 40 airlines offer non-stop services to more than 120 regular and seasonal destinations worldwide.
International Terminal gates.
Trudeau Airport at night in 2008.

Irregular charters (2009)

Some airlines have charter flights servicing Montreal 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 Montréal-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. Servisair offers a pay-per-use and membership VIP lounge in the International Jetty


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, Manitobamarker after running out of fuel. No one was injured, and the incident became known as the Gimli Glidermarker.
  • On May 13, 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration refused permission for Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight BG011 en route from Dhakamarker 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 from London Heathrowmarker to Montreal was among the seven planes allegedly targeted in a massive bomb plot that was being planned in Britain. The flight, scheduled for departure from London at 3:15 p.m., was canceled that day. All targeted flights, carrying between 240 and 285 people each, were to have been detonated simultaneously as the planes crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The flight flew 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 Calgarymarker. 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: Air France Flight 346, a Boeing 747-400 was making a landing at the airport when it skidded off the runway and got stuck in the grass. The flight originated from Charles de Gaulle International Airport. All of the 490 passengers on board escaped with no injury.


  1. Aéroports de Montréal
  2. See List of the busiest airports in Canada#Comparison of the 5 busiest airports by domestic, transborder and international passenger traffic for full sourcing.
  3. ICAR - a new motorsport facility in Québec
  4. Mirabel redécolle
  5. Hélibellule fleet
  6. Hélibellule fait revivre le transport des passagers à Mirabel
  7. 2004 Statistics
  8. Aéroports de Montréal Passenger Statistics
  10. See for Montreal's public transit system website to download schedules for the three STM bus routes serving Montréal's Trudeau International Airport, including bus #204 ("Cardinal"), which runs seven days a week, bus #209 ("Sources"), which serves the airport Monday to Friday, and the night bus #356, which runs from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Bus #204: [1], bus #209:, and Bus #356: [2]
  11. Airport Shuttle Service
  12. Autobus-la-quebecoise-l'aerobus Aerobus
  13. Aéroports de Montréal Provides a Progress Report on Work at Montréal–Trudeau
  14. Airport rail shuttle expected by 2015
  15. A380 world tour continues with the first visit to Montreal
  16. Toronto Pearson Passenger Statistics
  17. 2008 Vancouver Passenger Statistics
  18. CAAB warned of poor aircraft maintenance
  19. Montreal, Toronto flights targeted in alleged British bomb plot
  20. Globe and Mail story about the August 2008 runway overshoot

External links

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