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The busiest airport in Quebec: Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport – best known as Montreal International Airport – is an engineering and aviation marvel. It’s also a great place to land a private jet charter. Let’s find out more about what you can expect from your next trip to the busiest airport in Quebec.

Montreal International Airport processed more than 19.42 million passengers and 240,159 movements in 2018 – making it the busiest airport in the province of Quebec and the third busiest airport in Canada. Just over 63% of passengers that land at the airport are on non-domestic flights, which means Montreal Airport is the busiest gateway into Canada. In fact, the country's flag carrier, Air Canada, is headquartered on the Saint-Laurent side of the airport.

Montreal Airport is situated on the Island of Montreal, just 12 miles from Downtown Montreal – Quebec’s most populated city. The airport also serves neighboring regions in Quebec and eastern Ontario, as well as the US states of Vermont and northern New York.

Montreal Airport departures fly direct year-round to five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. The only other airport in Canada to offer non-stop flights to five continents or more is Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Brief history of Montreal Airport

Large aircraft parked in front of Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Large aircraft parked in front of Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

Montreal Airport began operations as Saint-Hubert Airport in 1927. In 1941, it expanded and became Dorval Airport with three paved runways. By 1955, the airport was handling more than a million passengers, and by 1959, it doubled as RCAF Station Lachine and had become the main transatlantic hub for commercial aviation and the busiest airport in Canada. By 1960, it was renamed Montreal-Dorval International Airport and opened a new Can$40 million terminal.

Between 1975 and 1997, Montreal Airport was repurposed to serve domestic flights and trans-border flights to the United States only, while Mirabel Airport took over the handling of all international traffic. By 1997, after the decline of Mirabel Airport, all international scheduled flights returned to Montreal Airport, and private jet Canada flights had returned to Montreal by 2004.

In 2004, the airport was renamed Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in honor of Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Between 2000 and 2007, Montreal International Airport expanded its terminal with a Can$716 million budget. All the airport upgrades eventually cost Can$1.5 billion and included construction that would allow the airport to accommodate the Airbus A380, with two air bridges to load and offload passengers on both decks of the A380 simultaneously.

Upgrades at Montreal Airport have continued to keep pace with the demand for air travel, resulting in a new hotel, expansion of the trans-border and international terminal areas, and modernization of the airport.

Terminals at Montreal International Airport

Inside busy terminal at Montreal International Airport
Inside busy terminal at Montreal International Airport

Montreal Airport has a two-storied terminal made up of four zones called jetties: the Public Jetty at Montreal Airport arrivals and departures level, the Domestic Jetty, the International Jetty, and the Trans-border Jetty.

The Public Jetty has two areas – the first for the check-in of flights within or outside Canada (except the US), and the second for flights departing for the US. Both areas have self-service check-in kiosks and shops and restaurants, as well as free Wi-Fi, ATMs, and nursing rooms. Curated artwork and temporary exhibitions are displayed throughout the airport to showcase Montreal's artistic and cultural past and present.

The Domestic Jetty has two areas: a satellite jetty connected to the main terminal by an underground tunnel, and a wing attached to the main terminal building.

The International Jetty handles flights destined for destinations outside Canada and the US. The area offers passengers a variety of culinary and retail experiences (including one of the biggest airport duty-free shops in Canada), and the Veil of Glass – a spectacular artwork of multi-colored glass triangles by local artist ATOMIC3. If you’re flying in by private jet hire and business commitments prevent you from viewing the sights in Montréal, you can view a number of murals and works of art at Montreal Airport, including four from Montréal museums.

The Trans-border Jetty handles all flights bound for the US. This part of the Montreal Airport terminal offers the same services and amenities as other areas, but has additional security arrangements like glass wall swing gates and security checkpoints.

Ground transportation at Montreal International Airport

Bus in Canada headed to Montreal
Bus in Canada headed to Montreal

There are four regular bus routes to and from the airport (including night buses) run by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). Three of these routes can transport passengers to and from the Dorval bus terminus and train station – in walking distance of Via's Dorval station – and there is a shuttle bus between the airport and Via's Dorval station. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, and Swiss International Air Lines operate private buses to points in and around Montreal.

Montreal Airport parking includes a parking area in front of the main terminal building (a three-minute walk away) as well as an additional economy parking area about an eight-minute walk from the terminal. Montreal Airport parking has dedicated spaces for people with reduced mobility and, as one of the best airports in Montreal, now offers charging stations for electric vehicles. Indoor parking can be accessed at the HotelParc Parking right next to the terminal.

Montreal Airport is one of the best private jet airports in Canada. When you fly by private jet charter, you get to avoid long queues for baggage collection and security. Your personal account manager is also available to you 24/7 to assist you with any requirements you may have, from arranging in-flight cuisine to making last-minute changes to your private jet hire.

Hotels near Montreal Airport

View of Gothic Revival style Notre-Dame Basilica in Quebec
View of Gothic Revival style Notre-Dame Basilica in Quebec

Montreal Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel is connected to Montreal International Airport, while the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel is less than a mile away. Other hotels near Montreal Airport include Aloft Montreal Airport – a pet-friendly hotel that offers a 24-hour airport shuttle service – and the Doubletree by Hilton Montreal Airport, which is great for a layover in Montreal. Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Montreal Airport offers all the comforts you’d expect as well as a free shuttle service to and from the airport.

The Holiday Inn Express Montreal Airport is a 10-minute drive from the airport – make the most of the indoor pool, hot tub and sauna before you enjoy the nightlife of Downtown Montreal. For pure luxury, head over to the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, which is less than three miles from the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal and Vieux Port de Montréal.

As one of the best private airports in Canada, Montreal International Airport has you well placed to discover all this vibrant city has to offer, from a walk through Old Montreal and Mount Royal city park, to the Olympic Park complex and Underground City.

If you’re planning to travel to Montreal, Canada, please get in touch with Air Charter Service for expert advice about the best private airports in Canada, as well as the most efficient routes and aircraft for your journey.



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