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Why Was Montreal Mirabel Closed To Airline Traffic  
User currently offlinedoulasc From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 529 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 18793 times:

For years all Canadian Domestic and flights from the USA used Dorval(YUL) and all other international flights used Mirabel(YMX). What was behind closing it to airline traffic? Is Dorval big enough to handle all airline traffic for Montreal?

55 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineA346Dude From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 1283 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 18806 times:

Quoting doulasc (Thread starter):
What was behind closing it to airline traffic? Is Dorval big enough to handle all airline traffic for Montreal?

I'm sure you could write a novel on it but long story short: YUL is big enough and Mirabel is an hour from the city with no transportation links other than road.

[Edited 2012-03-24 16:57:19]


You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
User currently offlinetymnbalewne From Bermuda, joined Mar 2005, 948 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 18734 times:

A couple of reasons:
a) The envisioned rail to Mirabel never materialized
b) The plan for Mirabel's success was based on Dorval being closed. Alas, this never occurred.



Dewmanair...begins with Dew
User currently offlinelightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 13003 posts, RR: 100
Reply 3, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 18714 times:
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Mirabel was a financial disaster. Airlines are a low margin business. Some of the profit is belly cargo. O&D passenger traffic, domestic or international, is the highest profit. However, to make long haul work, it survives off connecting traffic.

With YMX, the cargo and long-haul were separated from the lifeline of connecting feed, all marginal short-haul and long-haul had to be cut. That created a spiral as each cut flight made another flight marginal. This created a 'death spiral' that eventually shrank traffic to the point it all fit back at YUL.

The 'split-hub' approach at YMX also occured as longer range aircraft were entering service. So flights that once needed a fuel stop on their way (in particular, to Europe) now could bypass YUL. Splitting long-haul/cargo from the Canadian domestic flights forced an acceleration of YUL/YMX bypass.

The third issue was transportation to YMX. The promised rail never materialized.  

Mirabel is now the 'poster child' of why split hubs are economically disadvantageous. A quick way to remove a city from the 'international hubbing map' is to force a split on connections.

We currently have another thread going where US's CEO notes how connections can be the difference between a profitable flight and a loss:
US's Kirby Ranks Hubs By Profitability (by EricR Mar 24 2012 in Civil Aviation)

This is why it is better for most metropolitan areas to shut down their prior airport with the opening of the new airport a la DEN. Very few metropolitan areas have the O&D demand for multiple airports. This is also why it works for two mid-size cities to share a single airport.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlinetymnbalewne From Bermuda, joined Mar 2005, 948 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 18598 times:

When I was in grad school and looking for a cheap way home from London to New York I bought a cheapo ticket LHR-AMS-YMX on KL and connected to PE YMX-EWR. Good memories.


Dewmanair...begins with Dew
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25154 posts, RR: 22
Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 18249 times:

New York Times article on Mirabel dated 2004, the year the last charter flights moved back to YUL. Scheduled flights had moved back in 1997. I remember my last flight from YMX on a Swissair MD-11 to ZRH, a few months before it closed to scheduled flights.
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/03/in...html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&oref=slogin

Excerpt below from the following Aéroports de Montréal (operator of both YUL and YMX) brochure issued last year on the 70th anniversary of the opening of Dorval Airport, ironically now named for the Canadian Prime Minister (Pierre Trudeau) who was largely responsible for the construction of Mirabel.
http://www.admtl.com/UploadedFiles/ADMTL/APropos/Past_Future.pdf

In 1968, 4.5 million passengers transited through Dorval airport. Optimistic passenger traffic forecasts encouraged the Government of Canada to envisage the construction of a new airport capable of absorbing traffic growth well beyond the year 2000. The site at Ste-Scholastique was chosen and Montréal–Mirabel opened in 1975.

According to the initial plan, the transfer of flights to Mirabel was to be done in two stages: first, international flights in preparation for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games; then domestic and transborder (U.S.) flights. However, even before the new Mirabel airport had been officially opened, the hypotheses upon which the project had been based began to crumble. The 1970 recession, the 1973 oil-price shock and the loss of status as the sole gateway combined to slow traffic growth.

In 1982, the Government of Canada decided to maintain domestic and transborder flights at Dorval. There followed a long period of uncertainty during which traffic-sharing between Mirabel and Dorval made flight connections difficult and adversely affected the development of both airports, in addition to creating duplication.

The arrival on the scene of Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) in 1992 sparked a process of reflection on the future of Montréal’s airport system. With the support of many stakeholders within the Greater Montréal community, the Corporation gave air carriers the choice of operating scheduled international flights at Dorval. By 1997, all scheduled international flights, without exception, were transferred back to Dorval. Charter flights followed in 2004. Thus, Dorval — rechristened Montréal–Trudeau — became again the Greater Montréal region’s sole international passenger airport.


User currently offlineIndianicWorld From Australia, joined Jun 2001, 2951 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 18062 times:

Many of the same challenges, in a slightly different form, are being seen in Milan currently. With LIN remaining a vital part of many airlines plans into the region, MXP has struggled to maintain any real competitiveness, given its more remote location. MXP even has a rail link though, which is something YMX never got around to.

The AZ MXP hub ultimately failed in part because of the LIN focus that they still had, which just split the traffic and made the exercise less efficient. Add in the FCO focus that AZ still wanted to keep and there were a number of issues that ultimately got in the road of a profitable business.


User currently offlinethenoflyzone From Canada, joined Jan 2001, 2430 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 18018 times:

Quoting doulasc (Thread starter):
Is Dorval big enough to handle all airline traffic for Montreal?

Yes. Currently, the capacity for YUL is set at 15 million/year. In 2011, it handled 13.7 million passengers. Work has begun on extending the international jetty with another 6 contact gates and a few remote ones. This should enable YUL to cope with around 20 million passengers.

Same thing could be said in terms of runway layout. YUL could potentially handle 480,000 movements with the current runway system in place. In 2011, it handled less than half that.

Thenoflyzone

[Edited 2012-03-24 21:44:15]


us Air Traffic Controllers have a good record, we haven't left one up there yet !!
User currently offlineCondor24 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 43 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 17475 times:

I remember flying in and out of Mirabel on BA in the early eighties. If I am not mistaken, were these L1011 Tristars ?

The 'mobile disembarking / embarking carriers' were novel.

Montreal was never a mainstream destination which was another reason the airport failed.



'Condor, the span to fly'
User currently offlineEY460 From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 268 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 17263 times:

Quoting IndianicWorld (Reply 6):
Many of the same challenges, in a slightly different form, are being seen in Milan currently. With LIN remaining a vital part of many airlines plans into the region, MXP has struggled to maintain any real competitiveness, given its more remote location. MXP even has a rail link though, which is something YMX never got around to.

The AZ MXP hub ultimately failed in part because of the LIN focus that they still had, which just split the traffic and made the exercise less efficient. Add in the FCO focus that AZ still wanted to keep and there were a number of issues that ultimately got in the road of a profitable business.



The only difference is that Linate is exploding and cannot be expanded as it is surrounded by the city. Linate cannot take the intercontinental traffic from Malpensa. I believe Milan will always have 2 airports (3 if you consider Bergamo) as authorities do not want to close it.


User currently offlineaircellist From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 1718 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 17239 times:

I wonder whether the same could happen to Narita, now that Haneda is improving...

User currently offlineicanfly From Australia, joined Aug 2011, 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days ago) and read 16866 times:

How does Paris make CDG and ORY work? From recollection, ORY was the original airport but continued in operation after CDG opened in the early 1970s.


United: please start SYD-IAH!
User currently offlineWA707atMSP From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2221 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 16342 times:

Another factor that led to the construction of YMX was noise from supersonic transports. In the late 1960s, it was known that the Concorde and Boeing 2707 would be noisier than the 707 and DC-8, which were not exactly quiet. Some cities built, or proposed, new airports in unpopulated areas to minimize the noise from SSTs. In addition to Mirabel, other airports that were intended for SSTs included Maplin (London), Satholm (Copenhagen), Nord (Paris), Morris Swamp (New York City), Palmdale (Los Angeles), Lake Erie (Cleveland), Munich II (Munich), Lake Michigan (Chicago), the Everglades (Miami) and Grapevine (Dallas).

One runway of the Everglades airport was built before construction was halted on environmental grounds, and it is used for training. Palmdale has limited service. Nord / Roissy was renamed Charles de Gaulle. The Grapevine, Texas airport became DFW. Munich II, which was intended to be open for the ill-fated 1972 Olympic Games, finally opened twenty years later than planned. None of the other airports were built.

Quoting Condor24 (Reply 8):
I remember flying in and out of Mirabel on BA in the early eighties. If I am not mistaken, were these L1011 Tristars ?

I flew BA DTW-YMX-LHR in Jan 1989, on an L-1011. BA had full local traffic rights DTW-YMX. Amazingly, four passengers chose BA in lieu of a DTW-YUL flight on NW. However, BA's ground crew at YMX forgot to unload one DTW-YMX passenger's checked bags. It was mixed in with all the other bags on the bag belt at LHR the next morning.



Seaholm Maples are #1!
User currently offlinerutankrd From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 2985 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 15852 times:
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Quoting icanfly (Reply 11):
How does Paris make CDG and ORY work? From recollection, ORY was the original airport but continued in operation after CDG opened in the early 1970s.

Whilst the comments made by Lightsaber are pertinent and certainly hold true to the US aviation developments and that lead to the grand HUBs, it should not be applied towards European airport developments in its entirety.

One of the primary differentiators in Europe were the explosion of IT (Inclusive Tour) charters from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean. These lead to significant support for secondary airfields with major conurbations,particularly in France the UK and Germany.

Additionally transport policies in the UK and France supported secondary long haul carriers notably British Caledonian - To West Africa and South America and UTA to the distant french directorates and Francophone Africa.

Both of the above were forced to operate from secondary airports at Gatwick and Orly

In the case of Orly French authorities also built a special DOMESTIC terminal for the use of Air Inter that allowed for easy and quick and frequent travel from the southern major cities into Paris and same day return way before the TGV.

Even today if you are in Marseille or Toulouse domestic air travel is a serious option.

Further prior to deregulation in the EU, many of the business city to city routes operated within the IATA pooling arrangements (Effectively -there was NO competition between what we now call the legacies)

Typically could the from a regional airport to say Paris out on BA and return on AF or reverse on the same ticket no question.

European travel on business was effectively all O&D and long haul well you went with your national carrier or the foreign partner in the main.

Heres the problem many/most Europeans are accustomed to O&D travel from their LOCAL airport to an airport within a few tens of miles of where they want to go to this day - Hence the success of Jet2, EasyJet and Ryanair and German Wings (contrary to the myth on these forums that RYR fly nowhere to nowhere - quite few actually do link real business trade centres oh and yes those favoured Mediterranean sun spots !)

Without the corrupt and expensive award schemes the like of BA would NOT have passengers flying GLA-LHR-AMS period.


User currently offlinethenoflyzone From Canada, joined Jan 2001, 2430 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 15623 times:

Quoting Condor24 (Reply 8):
Montreal was never a mainstream destination which was another reason the airport failed.

Well no. Montreal was the mainstream destination in Eastern Canada in terms of international flights up until the late seventies. Yes, it was used as a fuel stop, but there was plenty of O&D traffic to and from Montreal as well. Even after being overshadowed by Toronto, Montreal was and still is a major international destination. The line-up of long-haul carriers today at YUL compared to other cities it's size in North America is a testament to this, hence why they are expanding the international jetty after building it only 7 years ago.

Thenoflyzone

[Edited 2012-03-25 06:11:25]


us Air Traffic Controllers have a good record, we haven't left one up there yet !!
User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8002 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 15590 times:

I think what saved CDG from the same fate as Montreal Mirabel was:

1. There was plentiful room to expand, and Aeroports de Paris (the company that runs CDG) took full advantage of that space.

2. CDG had a modern rail link back to the center of Paris.

I sometimes wonder was NRT headed towards the same fate. But I think what saved NRT was the opening of the rail terminals underneath the two international terminals (originally intended for a Shinkansen line) so the JR East Narita Express and Keisei Skyliner could directly go from the center of Tokyo to the airport terminals.


User currently offlineModernArt From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 15408 times:

Quoting icanfly (Reply 11):
How does Paris make CDG and ORY work?


Easy. Paris is one of - if not - the most touristed/visited city in the world. Almost 90M pax between the two airports - with a huge percentage originating at or deplaning for the Ile de France.


User currently offlineHBGDS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 15274 times:

There's a book by Elliott Feldman, a political scientist turned lawyer, entitled "Concorde and Dissent" which examines failed techno projects. He also wrote a separate piece on Montreal, but in the book mentioned, he points out how Mirabel fits into the "if you build it they will come" attitude of the 60s-70s. In that model, he puts CDG and IAD, too. WHile both eventually had traffic growth, it took years to achieve

User currently offlineltbewr From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13078 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 15184 times:

I would also suggest as to Mirabel that the Separatist movement in Quebec was a factor. As the separatist movement grew in the later 1970's and into the 1980's, it cause a shift of the English speaking residents as well as several major companies based in Montreal to move to Toronto or other cities in Canada. That contributed to the reduced the anticipated and overall demand for Mirabel.

User currently offlinelightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 13003 posts, RR: 100
Reply 19, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 14517 times:
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Quoting aircellist (Reply 10):
I wonder whether the same could happen to Narita, now that Haneda is improving...

The difference is the population that now lives near NRT and, as already noted, the rail to the airport. Tokyo is also far more populous and wealthy than Quebec

Quoting ltbewr (Reply 18):
I would also suggest as to Mirabel that the Separatist movement in Quebec was a factor.

It certainly didn't help. It is impossible to ignore the lack of connecting traffic with the introduction of longer range aircraft that allowed bypassing a stop.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineyyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16248 posts, RR: 56
Reply 20, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 14420 times:

Quoting tymnbalewne (Reply 2):
A couple of reasons:
a) The envisioned rail to Mirabel never materialized
b) The plan for Mirabel's success was based on Dorval being closed. Alas, this never occurred.

Other reasons"
c) The fed govt was "choosing" Montreal to be the primary intl airport even though YYZ handled many more pax than YUL and had indeed surpassed YUL as long ago as 1964 in terms of passengers handled. Another example of a long list of favouritism to Quebec.
d) A belief that air travel would explode and max out all airport capacity. This happened just about everywhere BUT Montreal. Even today, YUL handled not much more traffic than it did in 1975 (compared to the growth of air travel everywhere else) which is due entirely to the absolute economic decline of Montreal, which continues to this day.

Quoting lightsaber (Reply 3):
Mirabel is now the 'poster child' of why split hubs are economically disadvantageous.

It's also a poster child for:
1. Government favouritism to Quebec,
2. Government getting involved in choosing economic winners and losers, ignoring the market place.



Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineVS11 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1111 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 14217 times:

Very interesting discussion. I had no prior knowledge about this airport so as I was reading the thread I googled it and found this video on youtube with images before and after 2009. Very very sad and disturbing to see such infrastructure completely abandoned.

Some of the comments below the video do indicate that the separatist movement was the major cause of the airport decline as businesses moved away from Montreal.

So is the airport still abandoned? Is there a plan for it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BsFQAAblL8


User currently offlinefcogafa From United Kingdom, joined May 2008, 784 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 14099 times:

Quoting VS11 (Reply 21):
So is the airport still abandoned? Is there a plan for it?

I think Bombardier are building the C series there


User currently offlinecyeg66 From Canada, joined Feb 2011, 202 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 14059 times:

Quoting lightsaber (Reply 3):
This is why it is better for most metropolitan areas to shut down their prior airport with the opening of the new airport a la DEN. Very few metropolitan areas have the O&D demand for multiple airports.

Shhhhh. People, Albertans mostly, that do not live within Edmonton's metropolitan area might hear you and think that you're meddling in their meddling of Edmonton's city centre airport issue. .  



slow to 160, contact tower, slow to 160, contact tower, slow to....ZZZZZZZ......
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25154 posts, RR: 22
Reply 24, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 12902 times:

Quoting VS11 (Reply 21):
Very very sad and disturbing to see such infrastructure completely abandoned.
YMX is far from "completely abandoned". It handles all the cargo flights serving Montreal (at least half a dozen carriers including FedEx, UPS and several Canadian carriers).

It's also the site of Bombardier's assembly plant for the CRJ-700/900/1000 and coming CSeries. And it's the site of Pratt & Whitney's engine test facility, including the home of their 2 747SP testbeds that were previously based in the U.S. It's also the location of PW's assembly plant for the geared turbofan engine that will power the CSeries (probably the first time an aircraft and the engines that power it will be built at the same location).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WtCsbqonuU
Construction of the new PW test/assembly facility including a hangar for the two 747SP testbeds.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N589JoV18HU

And all Bell helicopters for the civil market are built at their facility immediately adjacent to Mirabel, although not directly connected to the airport.

[Edited 2012-03-25 12:25:02]

[Edited 2012-03-25 12:26:37]

25 Post contains links and images aircellist : There was an awful lot of space at YMX too, though... The government just recently released another part of what was taken for the airport... In fact
26 FDH : Actually, I would not call that a "favor", that federal legacy is really a burden. So much money spent on this, and so ironic that YUL was named afte
27 yyz717 : It makes Montreal something of a laughingstock, actually. When most cities are looking to add airport infrastructure, Montreal is tearing its down. T
28 Post contains links and images Viscount724 : As mentioned in Reply 24, Pratt & Whitney's new YMX facility includes a hangar that accommodates both 747SPs. Photo of half of it here.
29 Viscount724 : It's much higher than that. Look at Transport Canada airport movement statistics. YMX seems to be averaging between 1000 and 1200 air carrier movemen
30 WestJet747 : That is one thing it is certainly not. There were plenty of Quebecois none too happy with the government with the amount of land they designated for
31 Skywatcher : I would argue that the construction of Mirabel (YMX) was indeed a detriment to the development of the civil aviation/airline industry in Montreal not
32 thenoflyzone : Something wrong with your math. YUL, in 2011, handled almost twice the traffic it did in 2002. As a comparison, YYZ only saw a 29% increase in the sa
33 yyz717 : It was still unnecessary investment in Quebec, by a Quebec Prime Minister, based on some phantom forecast that Montreal air traffic would explode whi
34 jamincan : 13.7 million pax/year (2011) is a little bit more than 10 million. Also, characterizing Montreal as struggling to keep over 10 million is simply fals
35 WestJet747 : This is true. I was able to find that Harper released 4,450 hectares but there's no mention of how many Mulroney gave up. As Viscount mentioned in Re
36 yyz717 : No. Rounded to the nearest 10MM, it's in the range of 10MM. My comment was in response to comparing Montreal airports to Paris and Tokyo. When discus
37 brilondon : This is the largest issue with YMX. Because it had no major rail links to the city centre, it was considerably more expensive to use. The connections
38 WestJet747 : If Montreal is such an inferior market as you claim, then is 10 million (in whatever context you wish) not a sufficient number? Again, on a weekend w
39 Viscount724 : Both runways are open at YMX. One was briefly deactivated a few years ago but it's been open again for quite a while, although it was shortened from
40 WROORD : All true, but also at the time when they built Mirabel Montreal was a huge business center and a textile capital of North America, plus the host city
41 Post contains links lightsaber : Montreal had an advantage that they threw away. For come reason cities do this. We've seen it with Detroit and I believe soon with another city I'll
42 sharktail : Sounds like a good riddle. OK, I'll bite: London? With their refusal to expand LHR, seems like they are going to be eliminating LHR as the dominant E
43 r2rho : Paris is a huge metro area that has more than enough O&D to support 2 airports (and more if it weren't for the TGV). Indeed, while no longer a co
44 rogercamel : Interesting reading. Reading up, one of the things that is very evident is the over-optimism surrounding the YMX in the past - according to wiki it wa
45 lightsaber : One I'll decline to answer due to *strong* counter-opinions of friends and relatives (who are in financial danger if I'm right...). I believe YMX cou
46 Viscount724 : You also have to keep in mind that the population of the metro Toronto area is about 50% larger than Montreal. There are many cities in the U.S. (and
47 yyz717 : But for a city of its size, Montreal handles far fewer passengers than any similar sized city in NA, and many smaller cities handle more passengers t
48 Viscount724 : I was referring to international traffic only. where YUL has far more traffic (and airlines) than many cities much larger than YUL. And if you want t
49 rogercamel : 1. - yes - I agree 2. - would have helped to a degree. But - airport rail links typically struggle to provide more than 25% of the patronage to the a
50 cyeg66 : I already have more than once and honestly, it's a tossup to use either air or train to Toronto. As for travelling to Ottawa, I would never fly to ge
51 WA707atMSP : I'm surprised nobody has brought up the fact that Toronto almost had a Mirabel of their own. At the same time Mirabel was proposed, there were also pl
52 yyz717 : You simply cannot discuss YMX without discussing the politics of the time. YMX was a MASSIVE white elephant from the day it was dreamed up. That it w
53 Post contains images WestJet747 : This still pops up in discussion from time to time, as recently as last year. I doubt it will ever happen though. And far more boring! I find rail tr
54 yyz717 : Yes....that's the plan. Buttonville's high point was CP Dash 8 commuter service to YUL in the late 80's. There is a smaller Markham-area airfield fur
55 Viscount724 : WS expansion on YYZ-YUL hasn't been aggressive. They only have 10 daily flights compared to 23 at AC. With several gaps of 2 and 3 hours with no WS f
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