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Toronto Pearson International Airport, also known as Lester B. Pearson International Airport or simply Toronto Pearson , is a major international airport serving Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. It is situated northwest of Downtown Torontomarker in the city of Mississaugamarker, Ontariomarker. It is the primary airport for a densely populated metropolitan region in southern Ontario including and surrounding the Greater Toronto Area known as the Golden Horseshoe.

Toronto Pearson is the largest and busiest airport in Canada. In 2008, it handled 32.3 million passengers, 429,262 aircraft movements and was the 22nd busiest airport by aircraft movements in the world. In 2006, the airport was selected as the best global airport by the UKmarker-based Institute of Transport Management.

Lester B. Pearson International Airport is the largest of four hubs for flag carrier Air Canada, making it a major Star Alliance hub airport. It also serves as a hub for Air Canada Jazz, Air Georgian, Air Transat, Fedex Express, Skyservice, and Sunwing Airlines, and is a focus city for Westjet. The airport is operated by Greater Toronto Airports Authority as part of Transport Canada's National Airports System and is one of eight Canadian airports with facilities for United States border preclearance.

An extensive network of daily non-stop domestic flights is operated from Toronto Pearson by several airlines to all major and many secondary cities across all Provinces of Canada. Toronto Pearson also has a very strong international presence, with 74 airlines offering non-stop or direct service to over 100 international destinations throughout the United Statesmarker, Mexicomarker, Asia, Europe, South America, Central America, the Caribbeanmarker, the Middle East and Oceania.


Malton Airport (1937-1960)

Malton Airport in 1939
Malton Airport in the 1930s
The airport was created from nine farmland properties that were purchased by the Toronto Harbour Commission in 1937. It first opened in 1939 as Malton Airport, named for its location near Maltonmarker, bounded by Derry Road to the north, Airport Road (6th Line) to the east, Elmbank Side Road to the south and Torbram Road (5th Line) to the west.

The first terminal was built in 1938 and consisted of a standard frame terminal building from a converted farm house. The original airport covered with full lighting, radio, weather reporting equipment, two hard surface runways and one grass landing strip.

Malton Airport was sold to the City of Toronto in 1940 and was used as a military training airport. An air traffic control centre was added in 1942 and the airport served as a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan facility during World War II.

A second terminal, similar to the existing structure at the Toronto Island Airportmarker, was built along Airport Road in 1949 to replace the first terminal (converted farm house). It was able to handle 400,000 passengers a year, and had an observation deck on the roof. Further expansion of the airport saw the expropriation of land to the south of Elmbank Side Road and westwards past Torbram to Dixie Road. The airport's growth eventually lead to the disappearance of much of the town, Elmbank. The runways for Malton consisted of 14/32, a runway used for test flights for the CF-105 Arrow (Avro Arrow) fighter from the Avro Canada plant and now exists only as a taxiway to 05/23; 14/32, a north-south runway (replaced by 15L/33R); and 10/28, a northwest-southeast runway which now exists only as a taxiway.

Transport Canada obtained control of Malton Airport in 1958, and the airport was renamed Toronto International Airport in 1960.

Toronto International Airport (1960-1984)

A view of Toronto International Airport in 1973, showing the original Terminal 1 (now demolished)
The second terminal was demolished in the late 1960s to make way for the Terminal 1 (T1) building. The original T1 (also called Aeroquay One) had a square central structure topped by a parking garage with about eight levels and ringed by a two-storey passenger concourse leading to the gates. It was designed by John B. Parkin and construction took place between 1957 and 1964.

In 1972, the Canadian government expropriated land east of Toronto for a second major airport, Pickering Airport, to relieve congestion at Toronto International. The project was postponed in 1975, partly due to opposition by community activists and environmentalists. However, the government retained ownership of the expropriated land.

Considered state-of-the-art in the 1960s, Terminal 1 became overloaded by the early 1970s, resulting in the building of another terminal. Terminal 2, originally intended as a freight terminal, opened on June 15, 1972. However, the failed development of the Pickering Airport forced the airport to modify Terminal 2's plan into a two floor, 26-gate passenger terminal. Initially, it was served only by charter airlines, but became the hub for all Air Canada passenger flights on April 29, 1973. A passenger tunnel with moving sidewalks at the northwest corner of Terminal 2 connected it with Terminal 1.

The site of Terminal 2 was to have been the location for the planned Aeroquays Two and Three, duplicates of the design of the original Terminal 1 (Aeroquay One), but their inefficiency in handling wide-body passenger aircraft by the late 1960s forced the airport to abandon the circular terminal concept.
Terminal 2 was designed for three airlines: American, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), and Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air). In the later development stages, it became apparent that it would not be viable in this form, the major complaint being the lack of indoor parking and the lack of windows. As AA, BA (formerly BOAC) and CP opted out of T2, Air Canada, as the government airline, was forced to move its operations there against its will. Initially, it was operated as three separate areas, befitting the three airlines for which it was designed: furthest west, (designed for CP) the Domestic zone; at the centre (designed for BA), International; furthest east, (for AA) Transborder. In the late 1970s, T2 was redesigned again; this iteration lasting until the acquisition of Canadian Airlines in 2000. The western zone remained Domestic, but was now colour coded red. In the middle, a separate Rapidair area was created for flights to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airportmarker and Montreal-Dorval International Airportmarker; it was red as well. East of that was the Transborder area, coloured white. A new section was added on the east end for International flights and was coded blue. An airside corridor along the southern edge of T2 was added, giving access to and from Canada Customs; this made it possible for aircraft arriving in one zone to depart with passengers from another zone without regating the aircraft.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (1984-present)

Terminal 3 as it appeared before completion of the East Processor Extension
The airport was renamed to Toronto Pearson International Airport in 1984, in honour of Lester B. Pearson, the 14th Prime Minister of Canada and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Operationally, the airport is often referred to as Toronto Pearson. Terminal 3 opened in 1991, to offset traffic from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Before its opening, Terminal 3 was the designation for the CP Air hangar at the airport during 1971 to handle the increased volume at Terminal 1.

There is one infield terminal located near the cargo tentants, however, it is not used for by any airline or cargo airline.

As part of the National Airports Policy, management responsibilities of the Toronto Pearson were transferred from Transport Canada to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority in 1996. The C$4.4 billion Airport Development Program commenced with focus on terminal development, airside development, infield development, utilities and airport support facilities over a 10-year period. Work began to replace Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 with a new Terminal 1, which along with a Terminal 3 would become the two passenger terminal facilities at Toronto Pearson.

To ensure the ability of Toronto Pearson to accommodate its growing aircraft volume, substantial redevelopment of the airside and infield systems took place. Cargo facilities were added in the centre of the airport between the parallel north-south runways, to increase capabilities and to offset the loss of the cargo facilities that were removed for the new terminal. Two new runways were built to increase the number of aircraft that Toronto Pearson can process. A north-south runway, 15R/33L, was added and completed in 1997. Another east-west runway, 06R/24L, was completed in 2002.

After the September 11 attacks, Toronto Pearson was part of Operation Yellow Ribbon, as it received 19 of the diverted flights that were coming into the United Statesmarker, even though Transport Canada and NAV CANADA instructed pilots to avoid the airport as a security measure.
The new Terminal 1 Check-in Hall
The new Terminal 1 opened on April 6, 2004. Previously, Terminal 2 had a facility for United States border preclearance and handled both domestic and international transborder traffic. Domestic traffic was moved to the new Terminal 1 when it became operational, leaving Terminal 2 to handle transborder United States traffic for Air Canada and their Star Alliance partner United Airlines.

Terminal 2 saw its last day in operation as a passenger terminal on January 29, 2007 and airlines moved to the newly completed Pier F at Terminal 1 the following day. Demolition of Terminal 2 began in April 2007 and is expected to continue until November 2008. Terminal 1 was designed in a way that will allow for future expansion. Future projections see Toronto Pearson handling 55 million passengers annually by 2020 , and Terminal 3 will also be expanded as needed to service the passengers.

The first landing of an A380 in Toronto was on June 1, 2009, operated by Emirates.

Traffic flow is steady at Pearson throughout the year, but during the day, peak passenger, cargo and aircraft movements are between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. daily. Transpacific flights from East Asia peak late in the night, while Transatlantic flights from Europe peak during late afternoon.

Infrastructure and services

LINK Train

In July 2006, the automated LINK Train people mover was opened, with two 6-car trains running between Terminals 1 and 3 and the 6A Station, where a reduced rate and airport staff parking lot exists between Airport Road and Viscount Road. A new parking garage (currently being constructed at 6B parking lot), opposite the 6A Station (linked via a bridge that crosses Viscount Road), will open in December 2009 and will have a maximum capacity of 8,500 vehicles. This will be a mixed use building (long term parking, employee parking and rental car operations).


  • Main control tower - was completed in 2000 and replaced the old tower (now demolished).
  • Deicing Centres 1997-1999
  • Central Heating Plant 2001
  • Central Utilities Plant 2001
  • GTAA Cogeneration Complex 2005
    • Terminal 3 Switching Station
    • Bramaleamarker Transformer station
  • Carlingview Stormwater Control Facility 2000
  • Etobicokemarker Stormwater Management Facility 2000
  • Moore Creek Stormwater Control Facility 2000
  • GTAA Administration Building - moved in 1997; former home of Canadian Airlines

North Business Aviation Area

Terminal 3 overview
Next to the cargo terminals off Derry Road is refer to as the North Business Aviation Area. It is home to several tenants:

Other airport tenants

  • Peel Regional Police is the primary general police service at the airport. Airport Division is located on 2951 Convair Drive, on the south side of the airport near the Facilities Building along Highway 401.
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker maintain a Toronto Airport Detachment to provide federal police services. The Canada Border Services Agency as well as the Canadian Security Intelligence Servicemarker maintain extensive operations at the airport.
  • The Greater Toronto Airports Authority administration offices are located on the south side of the airport. They were re-located when the original office was torn down to make way for the new Terminal 1's parking facilities.
  • Esso Avitat
  • Skyservice

Passenger terminals

Terminal 1 building
Toronto Pearson International Airport currently has two operating terminals: Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. T1 opened on April 6, 2004. The old Terminal 1, which closed simultaneously, was demolished to make room for additional gates at Pier E. Pier F at Terminal 1, which has an enlarged end called "Hammerhead F", opened on January 30, 2007 to replace Terminal 2. This pier is for international traffic and adds 7 million passengers per year to the airport's total capacity. Redevelopment of the airport was a logistical challenge as the existing terminals remained operational throughout construction and demolition.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is one of eight Canadian airports that has United States border preclearance facilities. US Border Pre-clearance is located in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 is designed to handle domestic, international and transborder flights in one facility. The Terminal features three piers: Piers D and E with 38 gates and Pier F with 23 gates. Pier F serves transborder and international flights, replacing Terminal 2 and the Infield Terminal (IFT). A Pier G is slated to be built in the future if demand warrants.

The terminal was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill International Ltd., Adamson Associates Architects, and Moshe Safdie and Associates.

All Star Alliance airlines serving Toronto Pearson International Airport (except for new member Continental Airlines) operate out of Terminal 1, however the terminal is also used by other airlines which are not members of Star Alliance. Terminal 1 has 58 gates: 101, 103, 105, 107-112, 120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 131-145, 151, 153, 155, 157, 160-163, 164A-164B, 165, 166A-166B, 167-181, 191, 193

Infield Terminal (IFT)

Constructed during 2001/02, and opened on April 6, 2003, the IFT was built to handle traffic displaced during the Terminal 1 development. The IFT has 11 gates (521 to 531), and is currently not in use. It will be reactivated once passenger demand rises to a point where Terminal 1 needs to be expanded again. It has been used as a location for film and television shoots.

East Holdroom

The east holdroom, also referred to as the "east beach," was added in 1990 and originally served as a satellite terminal for the former Terminal 2, handling mostly short-haul transborder flights for Air Ontario and later, Air Canada Jazz. Although it can only accommodate approximately 12 regional aircraft, the east holdroom has been designated all of Terminal 2's former gate numbers (200-299) and will remain in operation until further expansion of Terminal 1. The east holdroom was originally accessed by a shuttle bus from Terminal 2, but is now accessed by a shuttle bus from Terminal 1 after clearing the US Border Preclearance facility.

Terminal 3

The platform of the LINK Train's Terminal 3 station
Terminal 3, which opened on Thursday February 21, 1991, was built to offset traffic from the old Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 3 was initially advertised as "Trillium Terminal 3" and "The Trillium Terminal". It was built as a private venture and was a state of the art terminal containing, among other things, a US customs pre-clearance facility. A parking garage and a hotel (formerly Swissôtel, now Sheraton) is located across from the terminal. A bridge walkway conveniently connects the terminal to the hotel and parking garage. In 1997 the GTAA purchased Terminal 3, shortly thereafter implementing a C$350 million expansion.

The GTAA Terminal 3 Redevelopment Team (T3RD) was formed to oversee the terminal expansion. In 2004, the Pier C Expansion opened. In June 2006, the East Processor Extension (EPE) started operations. With a soaring, undulating roofline, the EPE added 40 new check-in counters, new retail space, more secure 'hold-screening' for baggage and a huge picture window offering one of the most convenient apron viewing locations at the airport. Improved Canadian Border services and a more open arrivals hall were included in Phase I of the expansion. Phase II of the EPE has been completed in 2007 and includes larger security screening areas and additional international baggage claim areas. The West Processor Expansion Shell was completed by early 2008.

Most Skyteam and Oneworld airlines serving Toronto Pearson operate out of Terminal 3, along with most airlines that are not affiliated with an airline alliance. Terminal 3 has 39 gates: A1-A6, B7-B22, C24-C41

Airport Lounges

There are several airport lounges located in Toronto Pearson International Airport. Star Alliance, Skyteam, and OneWorld airlines all maintain lounges within the airport, and there are also several "Pay-In" lounges open for use by all passengers, regardless of airline, frequent flyer status or class of travel.

Terminal 1
  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (Star Alliance)
    • International (Level 3, Node F)
    • Transborder (Level 4, Node F)
    • Domestic
  • Plaza Premium Lounge ("Pay-In" Lounge)
    • International (Near Gate 177)
    • Transborder
    • Domestic

Terminal 3

Airlines and destinations

Cargo operations

There are two main cargo facilities at Pearson. The Cargo West Facilities are located between runways 15L/33R and 15R/33L, and the Cargo Area 5 or VISTA Cargo Centres Incorporated are located north of Terminal 3.Also, FedEx Express Canada Cargo occupy facilities at west side of airport near runway 05/23. An additional separate cargo area is located north of the aviation facilities.

Tenants using the Cargo West Facilities
Air Canada Cargo American Airlines BAX Global
CBSA Worldwide Flight Services Inc

Tenants using the Cargo Area 5/VISTA Cargo Centre
Air Canada Access Air ACE Freight Air France Cargo Airline Cargo Sales Air-Ship International
Air Time Express Alitalia All Trade Shipping American Aviation Parts & Service Airport Terminal Services Austrian Airlines
BWIA Canada Border Services Agency Canada Post Cargolux Cargo Sales Resources Cargo Zone
Cargoitalia CAS Cargo and Travel Cathay Pacific DHL Express El Al EVA Air
Excel Cargo Exp-Air Cargo Freight Systems Incorporated Air India Handlex Incorporated International Cargo
International Fastline Fowarding Japan Airlines KLM Cargo Korean Airlines LAN Chile LOT Polish Airlines
Lufthansa Cargo Mayfield Cargo Finnair Northwest Airlines Onward Transportation Orbit Brokers
Pine Tree Express Platnium Air Cargo Prestige International Secure Maple Freight Swiss International Airlines Swissport
TBI U Freight International United Parcel Servicemarker Varig Logistics VCC Cargo Services

Tenants using the cargo area north of the aviation facilities
Shell Aerocentre Hangars and Flight Lounge All Cargo Airlines Ltd Air 500


Richard Serra's Tilted Spheres


The airport is accessible from Highway 427 (just north of the Highway 401 interchange) or from Highway 409, a spur off Highway 401 leading directly into the airport. Airport Road to the north and Dixon Road to the east both provide local access to the airport.


Bus services connecting Toronto and the surrounding region to Pearson Airport include:

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) routes (serving Terminals 1 and 3):

GO Transit offers semi-express bus services between the following destinations and the airport (serving Terminal 1 only):

Terminal 3 Building after the EPE opened in 2006 (March 2008)
Mississauga Transit operates:
  • The 7 Airport route between Square Onemarker and Maltonmarker via the airport (serving Terminal 1 only).
  • The 57 Courtneypark route between Meadowvale Town Centremarker and Islington Subwaymarker via the airport's Infield Cargo area (does not serve passenger terminals).
  • The 59 Infield route between Maltonmarker and the airport's Infield Cargo area (does not serve passenger terminals).

Brampton Transit operates the 101 Airport Express route between the Bramaleamarker bus terminal and the airport (serving Terminal 1 only).

Can-ar Coach Service operates a daily coach service between Port Elgin, Ontariomarker and the airport, serving communities in Dufferin, Grey, and Bruce counties.

Toronto Airport Express Coach

Pacific Western Transportation operates airport shuttle coach buses between downtown locations and Pearson Airport under the Toronto Airport Express brand.


Toronto Pearson International Airport has pick-up locations for taxis, limos, out-of-town bus and/or shuttle services, offering transportation to downtown Toronto, cities throughout Ontario, and into Detroitmarker. Taxis are licensed by the City of Mississauga, separately from the City of Toronto. Taxis licensed in Toronto can deliver to Pearson, but only airport-licensed taxis and limos can pickup at Pearson legally. One can also pre-arrange one's ride by GTA Airport Taxi or GTA Airport Limo at the Airport; one's ride will be waiting for one at the Pearson Airport. It is a little procedure one has to follow for pre-arrange reservation.

Out-of-town van services

Toronto Pearson International Airport supports many out-of-town small bus, van and shuttle operators, offering transportation from Toronto Pearson to cities, towns and villages throughout Ontariomarker, and into Michiganmarker in the United Statesmarker.

Future Access

Union-Pearson Rail Link

Although the airport is near an existing railway line, it is not currently served by trains. On November 13, 2003, Union Pearson AirLink Group, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, was selected to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain a rail link connecting Toronto Pearson with Toronto's Union Stationmarker, with a planned travel time of about twenty minutes. The service is expected to eliminate 1.5 million car trips annually. The project, whose cost is estimated at $300–500 million, remains controversial due to opposition from neighbourhoods along the route.

The project will depend on the results of an environmental assessment and decisions from the Government of Canada; the advent of Toronto's successful bid for the 2015 Pan American Games is expected to give the project some impetus.


The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is projected to connect Pearson with the main TTC transit network by 2018. The transit line, part of the Transit City initiative, is in the planning stages as of 2009; construction could begin in 2010, though the airport connection could be completed as late as 2020.

Major incidents

The Terminal 3 Grand Hall


  • On November 3, 1959, Vickers Viscount CF-TGY of Trans-Canada Air Lines was written off when it landed short of the runway
  • On June 13, 1964, Vickers Viscount CF-THT of Air Canada was damaged beyond economical repair when it crash-landed after the failure of two engines on approach.
  • The airport's deadliest accident occurred on July 5, 1970, when Air Canada Flight 621marker, a DC-8 jet, flew on a Montrealmarker-Toronto-Los Angelesmarker route. The pilots inadvertently deployed spoiler before the plane attempted landing, forcing the pilots to abort landing and takeoff. Damage to the aircraft caused during the failed landing attempt caused the plane to break up in the air during the go-around, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew on board when it crashed in a field southwest of Bramptonmarker. Controversy remains over the cleanup effort following the crash, as both plane wreckage debris and human remains from the crash are still found on the site.
  • On June 26, 1978, Air Canada Flight 189 to Winnipegmarker overran the runway during an aborted takeoff, and crashed into the Etobicoke Creek ravine. Two of 107 passengers on board the DC-9 were killed.
  • On August 2, 2005, Air France Flight 358marker, an Airbus A340-300 inbound from Parismarker, landed on runway 24L in a severe thunderstorm, failed to stop and ran off the runway into the Etobicoke Creek ravine. The rear third of the plane burst into flames, eventually engulfing the whole plane except the cockpit and wings. There were 12 serious injuries and no fatalities.

The following accidents and incidents involved aircraft destined for or that had departed from Toronto Pearson:

Notable visitors and miscellanea

  • In 1969, American guitarist Jimi Hendrix was arrested at the airport for possession of hashish and heroin. Hendrix was acquitted after he argued in his trial defense that without him knowing, a fan slipped it into his bag.
  • In 1977, a photograph focusing on the original Terminal 1, entitled "Toronto (Airport)" by George Hunter, was one of 116 images included on the golden record of the two Voyager spacecraft.
  • In 1981, the Canadian rock group Rush recorded the Grammy Award nominated instrumental titled "YYZ" in tribute to the airport. The song opens with the Morse code for the VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) located at the airport and features sonically the atmosphere of travel at Toronto Pearson. From the hustle and bustle of people moving, airplanes taking off, waiting for arrivals and takeoffs, the frantic pace of missing a flight and the eventual landing at the destination, etc. is all captured in the song according to drummer Neil Peart.
  • In 1987, the British Rock group Pink Floyd performed their rehearsals for the "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" World Tour in one of the Air Canada hangars at the airport.
  • In 1994, the TVOntario (TVO) children's show called Mighty Machines filmed one of their first episodes (Mighty Machines at the Airport) at Terminal 3. Canadian Airlines was the featured airline.
  • The music video for Celine Dion's 2004 radio hit "You and I" was filmed partly at Toronto Pearson International Airport. This song was part of Air Canada's marketing campaign at the time.
  • An episode of the CTV/CBS drama Flashpoint was filmed at the airport, with the infield hold terminal being used in some scenes as a stand in for Terminal 1, although the gates seen are still the 500 series of the IFT.
  • Canadian singer-songwriter Feist shot the music video for her single My Moon My Man at the airport.
  • On November 22, 2009, a 15 month old toddler fell to his death from a balcony on the departure level onto the arrival level of terminal 1.

See also


  1. GTAA - Toronto Pearson today
  2. Passenger Statistics 2008
  3. Greater Toronto Airport Authority - Toronto Pearson Voted "Best Global Airport 2006" by the Institute of Transport Management - Oct 30, 2006
  4. Toronto Pearson ON (YYZ)
  5. Vancouver BC (YVR)
  6. Montreal Trudeau QC (YUL)
  7. Calgary AB (YYC)
  8. Airports in the national airports category
  13. Airport Development PRogram
  14. GTAA - Chapter 5:Layout 1
  15. CTV News
  16. Changes to Toronto's Terminal 1 design improve passenger flow and visibility, adds handling space
  17. Toronto Pearson Today March-April
  18. Westjet has over 22 destinations from this terminal which leads to an average of 100+ flights daily, making it one of the busier airlines serving the airport. Toronto Pearson Today July-August
  25. [1]
  28. Toronto Airport Express
  32. [2]
  33. Wilkes, Jim (July 6 2004) "Ghosts of Flight 621 haunt Brampton field", Toronto Star. Accessed July 6, 2007.

External links

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