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Unwanted zombie Mirabel threatens new Sydney airport

October 29, 2013 Airport, Headline News 6 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59One of the world’s biggest airports is now used only for cargo flights and as the recent setting for a zombie romance movie.

Sydney Airport Corporation chairman Max Moore-Wilton mentioned the airport (one of the world’s most unwanted) as an example of what can happen if an airport is built and nobody comes. Moore-Wilton was arguing against a second airport in Sydney. Warm Bodies, a zombie romance

Contending that no one would use Badgerys Creek and it would be a waste of money, Moore-Wilton told the Sydney Morning Herald that the project could end up like Mirabel in the Canadian city of Montreal. Montreal built a huge second airport, only to eventually close it to all but cargo flights, because of lack of demand.

The airport in question, Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, is generally called just Mirabel. It has become a byword for white elephant. Mirabel Airport is 39 kilometres northwest of Montreal in Quebec. It opened in October 1975 as the largest airport in the world at that time, in terms of surface area.

Mirabel was intended to replace Montreal’s existing Dorval Airport as the eastern air gateway to Canada. The government tried to force the issue, compelling all international flights to and from Montreal to use Mirabel. But Mirabel was too far away, and its poor transport links made it an unpopular choice with airlines and travellers.

Eventually, Mirabel was relegated to the role of a cargo airport. As Wikipedia eloquently puts it: “Initially a source of pride, the airport became an embarrassment, widely regarded in Canada as being a boondoggle and a white elephant.”

The Mirabel site was selected following numerous government compromises. The hi-tech, high-speed rail link meant to connect it with Montreal never quite got off the drawing board. Funding problems set in.

Mirabel initially opened to great fanfare, with service from local airlines Air Canada, Canadian Pacific Airlines and Nordair (Quebecair), as well as airlines from more than 15 countries, including Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Czech Airlines, El Al, Iberia Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, The control tower, Mirabel AirportOlympic Airways, Sabena, Scandinavian Airlines System, Swissair and TAP Portugal.

But the razzmatazz was not to last. Airlines and passengers deserted Mirabel. Bigger airliners took to the skies that could fly right past the airport without landing to refuel. Finally, only one passenger airline, Air Transat, was using Mirabel. The last commercial flight from the airport departed to London on 31 October 2004.

Mirabel is still used for cargo flights. Its largely deserted terminal has served as the setting for several movies, television series and commercials. It’s also used as a drag racing track and recently served as the setting for Warm Bodies, a zombie romance film.

Alas for Mirabel. Zombie romance was not the destiny its founders had in mind.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mike Dunbar says:

    Hi Peter,
    Re. your YMX piece: Not only did the high-speed rail link to Mirabel fail to materialise but a specially built highway (unluckily numbered 13) ended up terminating in a farmer’s field several kilometres south of the new airport when the provincial government pulled the plug on funding. But the biggest mistake was to force international flights out of YMX while allowing domestic operations to continue ex-Dorval (now Trudeau International). That resulted in the ludicrous situation whereby international arrivals connecting on to domestic flights had to travel overground by bus or by (gouging) taxi to Dorval to continue their onward journey. That was the principal reason for the overfly. If Dorval had been closed when Mirabel opened, the city would still be served, and one suspects well served by one of the largest airports in the world a mere 39 kms from the city centre but alas Quebec sait faire, as they say around here.

  2. Bill McCall says:

    Of course if we build an airport at Badgery’s Creek we will CLOSE Mascot.! THAT is Moore-Wilton’s big fear, that the cash-cow he now Chairs may be sacrificed to the alter of progress and modernity. Moore-Wilton couldn’t care less about the unsuitability of Sydney Airport at Mascot – all that concerns him is that his corporation continues to milk the public and airline users for all they can contribute to the coffers of the company he represents. He is a neanderthal running dinosaur of a facility and it’s time the government and the public threw him and his corporate backers out.

  3. Andrew says:

    Of course Moore-Wilton will say and do anything to prevent damage to his cash-cow. He looks after nobody’s interests but his own. And of course the Sydney Morning Herald, fascinated as it is by conflict, will run to him for comment. But why a travel industry publication has to give oxygen to this predictable and self-serving point of view escapes me.

  4. Steven Burge says:

    If Badgery’s Creek went ahead – the only sensible (sic!) solution would be it to shut Mascot completely.
    Enusre there is high speed train link as well as multi lane highway to / from the CBD – do not end it at the M5 / M7 or other such place.

    Alas I fear that NSWG and FED Govt will not see eye to eye on this and pass the buck like they do on so many things.

    We need to think ahead and make sure the new airport is BIG enough to handle traffic 40-50years beyond the completion date and also have enough room to expand when needed

    Don’t allow people to buld houses nearby – cause they will only then complain once they settle in.

    Encourage business to setup nearby which won’t care about noise – but in saying that the new aircraft are so much quieter nowadays.

  5. Alex Lee says:

    Sydney should have built a new airport 20years ago. Look at Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Seoul for example all built new airports in the last 20years. Some of the best airports in the world and increased capacity. Want more tourism. build a new airport for gods sake.

  6. Bill McCall says:

    Sydney had its MANS (Major Airport Needs for Sydney) committee almost 35 years ago an recommended Badgery’s Creek then! Politicians are famously lacking in gonad capacity to undertake a visionary step like this. The problem, as with many things, is that they look at their term in office, work out how long it will take to complete the project with more than adequate infrastructure, figure they will not be in office long enough as individuals, nor as party, to ensure they will be present when this spanking new feature is declared open and, being reluctant to commence something that may benefit the opposition who might be in power when it is ready, concentrate instead on something that will be ready when they are still around. Has there ever been a politician whose vision extended longer than his term in office?

    Thankfully Moore-Wilton will be worm food long before the new Sydney Airport ever eventuates. Maybe Australia and NSW will be blessed with politicians in the future who will give us an airport built to service aircraft and people, not the fat cats who always seem to get their ugly snout in the trough and screw everything with which they come in contact.

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