Montréal has a plan to relieve its airport woes

Toronto Pearson gets all the bad press, but flying through Montréal’s international airport is no picnic, either. Case in point: It’s spending billions of dollars just to prevent traffic jams. 

What happened: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport will undergo a ~$4 billion plan to enhance capacity amid an influx of travellers. Developments will include new pickup and drop-off areas, a connection to the city’s REM rail network, and a new terminal.

Why it’s happening: Passenger traffic at Montréal-Trudeau has surged over the past two years. It’s one of the few Canadian airports to exceed its pre-pandemic travel numbers, leading to a ferocious increase in traffic that the airport simply wasn’t designed to handle. 

  • Last year, there was a rash of incidents where travellers opted to exit their cars and lug their bags on the highway off-ramp rather than sit and wait in airport gridlock. 

  • The airport also consistently ranks among the worst for flight delays, coming in as the world’s second-worst in summer 2022 — though maybe blame that on Air Canada.

Why it matters: Montréal-Trudeau is one of the country’s main hubs for foreign visitors, with ~66% of passengers arriving on non-domestic flights — the highest proportion in the country. 

  • A bad experience there — like, say, walking on a highway off-ramp to catch a flight only to face a long delay— creates a bad impression for the rest of the country. 

Zoom out: There’s proof that expansions can drastically improve performance. New York’s LaGuardia Airport, once routinely designated the worst airport in the U.S., completed a US$8 billion reno in 2022. In 2023, it topped a survey of the best airports in North America.—QH