Mirabel Airport – Mid 1970s Reports from Montreal

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Mirabel Airport on the outskirts of Montreal was going to be the city’s replacement airport for Dorval Airport. It was big news in the early 1970s, as Mirabel was a massive infrastructure undertaking for for the day.

The massive international airport went through feasibility studies and a huge sales campaign to the public, promoting that it could better serve the needs of Montreal than the existing airport facility at Dorval.

In hindsight we know that Mirabl Airport was a classic “white elephant” that no airline wanted to serve. Also it too far from the city centre, and it really not needed. At the end it proved to be a billion dollar mistake, that was shouldered by the Canadian taxpayer.

But these two films from 1973 make the case that Mirabel Airport was going to be a terrific success.

 

4 Responses to “Mirabel Airport – Mid 1970s Reports from Montreal”

  1. <path_to_url> Duncan Mills

    I used Mirabel twice – once to catch a Royal Air Maroc 707 to JFK in 1979, and a second time inbound from MIA on a Lan Chile 767, ten years later.

    The terminal was relatively deserted on both occasions. In retrospect, the whole project was a combination of ill-conceived plans, and Canadian financial powerhouses and business traffic from Montreal to Toronto in the divisive late 1970s.

    A similar airport – Washington Dulles, situated out in the boondocks of Northern Virginia – was relatively quiet for its first 20 years, but was always useful since close-in Washington National was confined and not amenable to expansion, not to mention limited to 727s or smaller during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the communities in Northern Virginia were growing rapidly, providing a local market for expanded domestic service from IAD, which exploded when deregulation reached full fever pitch. Mirabel did not have this nice confluence of factors, and as you noted, Dorval was quite suitable for both domestic and international operations.

    I understand that the Mirabel terminal was demolished recently.

    • <path_to_url> Henry Tenby

      Although the Mirabel terminal building was demolished as the upkeep was costly, the actual airport runway is used by specialized cargo operators. I understand the Pratt and Whitney Boeing 747SP lives there too. You were very lucky to have those two flights out of Mirabel, specially the RAM Boeing 707. What a treat! And to JFK .. a short leg. Pure magic.

  2. <path_to_url> Edric Koerner

    I’ve not trusted “experts” and “visionaries” in 40 years… nutrition no-nos, population catastrophes, vitamin supplements, climate cooling/warming, buy-precious-metals, and my favorite pastime… ZOOM-zooms! I’ve seen a lot of egg on many pursed faces, in my life… so THIS vid on Mirabel, was hilarious… in that stomach-churning creepy/costly way The Brits got away with… and Aerospatiale and Airbus have “missed” with Concorde and A380. Sorry ;-(

    • <path_to_url> Henry Tenby

      Good points Edric! In this case the “experts” and visionaries ended up costing the Quebec and Canadian taxpayers some billions of dollars. I am sure nobody was held accountable for the Mirabel flub. It is unbelievable that they said the then current day Dorval airport was at capacity and would not suffice under increased traffic levels. Blatant lies so it seems in hindsight!

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