Mirable Montreal

Montreal’s Mirabel Airport to be demolished

MONTREAL – Despite efforts to save Mirabel airport, the Montreal airport authority is going ahead with plans to demolish the facility, which has had no passenger flights since 2004.

On Tuesday, James Cherry, president and CEO of Aeroports de Montreal, announced that a demolition company has been chosen to tear down the structure after a call for tenders was launched last May.

Cherry did not disclose the name of the firm but the announcement effectively shuts the door on a proposal to turn the terminal into a convention centre.

He also stressed that aircraft will continue to make use of Mirabel’s facilities.

“The airport’s vocation is continuing,” Cherry pointed out to reporters. “There’s still two runways there, they’re still going to operate, there’s still cargo that’s taking off every day, there’s airplanes being built there, engines being tested there.”

“Were talking about one building on the site that used to house passenger activities that we haven’t used – it’s been empty for 10 years.”

Mirabel Mayor Jean Bouchard had asked that the demolition be delayed by three months but he admitted Tuesday that the Montreal-Mirabel Corporation, a non-profit group set up to save the airport, had not collected the $30 million that was needed.

The Mirabel mayor and former Quebec premier Bernard Landry are members of the corporation.

Bouchard also criticized Denis Lebel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Quebec’s lieutenant, accusing him of refusing to disclose Ottawa’s position on the airport’s future.

Mirabel, which often has been described as a white elephant, is owned by the federal government, but is leased to Aeroports de Montreal.

One proposal would have been to have the airport play host to an international aeronautics show, similar to the one held annually in Europe.

Mirabel was billed as the airport of the future when it first opened in 1975. Officials predicted at the time that 60 million passengers would pass through its gates annually by 2010, but yearly passenger traffic never surpassed three million.

New infrastructures, which were to include a high-speed rail link and a highway linking Montreal directly to the airport, were never completed.

The federal government expropriated more than 324 square kilometres of prime farmland, but only used 16 square kilometres for the airport. A total of 10,000 people were also forced from their homes.

Aircraft manufacturing giant Bombardier still has a huge plant and a testing centre near the sprawling airport complex, 40 kilometres north of Montreal.