Montreal Mirabel | Abandoned Airport

Mirabel AirportMontreal Mirabel Airport was opened in 1975 and was the largest airport ever envisaged until King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia was opened in 1999. It was designed to replace the existing Dorval Airport which was said to be nearing capacity and all international flights were required to use what was described as Canada’s eastern gateway. Grand designs were drawn up and in the mid-seventies it was seen as revolutionary in terms of airport planning.

Much fanfare surrounded the launch however even before the airport opened to the public, it became obvious that problems existed with the new facility. The were overlooked in the interim as Quebec, and indeed all of Canada was about to get the opportunity to show itself off to the entire world.

The Olympics in 1976 gave Montreal a huge boost which visitors arriving from around the world and landing at Mirabel Airport. The problems that some expected upon opening did indeed surface during the Olympics, most notably with the distance to Downtown Montreal. Without the promised high speed rail line being built, it took well over an hour to get into the city and tourists visiting for the games were not impressed. It caused an infrastructural nightmare that left the country embarrassed despite what was otherwise an extremely well organised Olympics.

There didn’t appear to be a short-term viable solution to the problems with Mirabel and there was also the problem of domestic flights remaining in the existing Dorval airport meaning connections required a bus journey between the two. Travellers arriving at Montreal to transfer to other parts of Canada would have to take a bus trip across the city, sometimes in heavy traffic and as a result, Mirabel and Montreal became unpopular for connecting traffic with Toronto, Ottawa and cities in the USA grasping the opportunity to grow their own traffic at Montreal’s expense.

With the introduction of longer range jets, intercontinental flights no longer needed to stop in Mirabel and the airport failed to live up to what was imagined for it. Montreal subsequently dropped behind Toronto and Vancouver in terms of passenger numbers and by 1997, Dorval Airport was re-opened to International flights. All commercial traffic moved to the airport and Mirabel was abandoned although various companies in the cargo and aviation industry continue to use it.

Mirabel Airport began to decline rapidly and the last flight was an Air Transat flight to London in 2004. After that the passenger terminal closed and was used for filming on the Tom Hanks film The Terminal. Having a ready-built but empty airport terminal meant it attracted a lot of interest from a variety of other production companies and Mirabel has doubled as a number of airports in various TV shows and movies. There were plans to turn the airport into a theme park however these have fallen through and it remains mainly abandoned to this day.

Location: Montreal, Canada

Category: Airport

Abandoned: 2004

Mirabel Airport Abandoned

Montreal Mirabel Airport

Mirabel Airport Demolish


  1. Such a waste. All this infrastructure not being used because of its hour distance from the city, just doesn't make sense.

    1. I've been informed recently that there are talks about a return of scheduled services. Not sure what building will be used for the terminal facilities though?

  2. Mirabel was used for location/exterior shooting for The Terminal. The set was actually built in a hangar in Los Angeles.

  3. Was also used for the film Warm Bodies.

  4. It was announced today that the terminal will be demolished once and for all.

    1. Oh that's sad! Will look into that. Are you near there Tim?

  5. I was there in 1993 and 1994 and stayed at Chateau Mirabel Hotel.... was a nice place.

  6. I remember that Canada 3000 were one of the last companies to fly here as I remember flying here in 2000 from London and remember how eerily quiet the place was and how super quick immigration was.

    When leaving I remember that apart from a small cafe there was nothing much else there but it did look a pretty building if lots of walking for no good reason.


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