Mirabel airport terminal, Trudeau's white elephant, to be torn down

The Mirabel airport terminal is no longer economically viable and will soon be no more, says Aéroports de Montréal.

Opened in 1975 and meant to replace airport in Dorval, Mirabel's now too outdated to be maintained

Mirabel Airport was meant to replace Dorval when it was built nearly 40 years ago. But it fell into disuse because of how far it was from Montreal. (Francis Labbé/Radio-Canada)

The Mirabel airport terminal is no longer economically viable and will soon be no more, says Aéroports de Montréal president and CEO James Cherry.

The authority launched a call for tenders on Thursday to demolish the Mirabel terminal.

The airport opened in 1975 under the Pierre Elliott Trudeau government and was meant to replace the Dorval airport. That airport, and not Mirabel, was renamed after Trudeau in 2004.

For years, international flights departing from or arriving in Montreal were scheduled out of Mirabel. But at more than 50 kilometres outside of the city, Montrealers quickly grew weary of forking over huge cab fares to travel to and from the airport.

The airport grew out of favour as a result, becoming a sort of white elephant for the Trudeau government.

Mirabel obsolete

The land is worth more than the building.- Aéroports de Montréal spokeswoman

Mirabel eventually became a cargo airport and an airplane testing site for companies like Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney. A couple of the airport's landing strips were kept operational after the terminal building went out of commission.

Last winter, Bombardier decided to move the testing of its CSeries jet from Mirabel to the United States.

Two runways will be kept open for testing purposes and cargo planes.

Although it had starred in several movies over the years, Mirabel Airport's terminal has been vacant since 2004.

Land worth more than the building

The building has become irreparably obsolete, said Cherry of Aéroports de Montréal.

The agency has spent more than $30 million to maintain the building in its vacant state over the past decade.

Aéroports de Montréal spokeswoman Christiane Beaulieu said in March that renovating Mirabel so that it would be in an operational state would have cost an additional $25 million.

“The land is worth more than the building,” she said.

Transport Canada has accepted the request to tear down the Mirabel terminal.

Mirabel Mayor Jean Bouchard said the demolition would result in a significant loss of tax revenues for the city.

Most recently, the airport had been used in the Canadian-made zombie apocalypse film Warm Bodies.