More than a half-million passengers fly in and out of the Fort McMurray Airport every year. It was built to handle one-eighth of that volume. ((CBC))

Architects in Alberta are finalizing plans this week for a $100-million expansion that will triple the size of the Fort McMurray Airport.

The airport was originally designed to handle 70,000 passengers annually, but the northern city's boom means the facility now sees eight times that, handling 560,000 people and 70,000 takeoffs and landings a year on its single runway.

It's the single busiest airstrip of any small or medium-sized city in Canada.

"There will times where this entire terminal is full, right from the baggage handling unit, right to the Westjet check-in," said Bill Newell, who is in charge of the expansion plan.

"Often times, we'll have, with the charters, six 737s parked out on the apron and others trying to get in."

Todd Peddle, an oilsands worker who commutes between Fort McMurray and Newfoundland, remembers how he felt the first time he landed in the city.

"So so small, the airport here for so many people in town, it's unbelievable here," he said.

The expansion plan includes a new terminal and a second runway, along with more gates, shops and more space in general.

"It's going to be upwards of 8,000 square metres whereas we sit at 2,600 square metres now, virtually tripling the size," said Newell.

Officials hope the new, bigger airport will be up and running in two years.