20 MAY 2013
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Whilst the Mayor of London pontificates with his grandiose scheme for an international airport somewhere in the Thames Estuary (see also AND FINALLY)) he should take a look at a not dissimilar scheme that went disastrously wrong in Montreal (Canada). Perhaps at Eton they do not take in modern history. Certainly the Australians recognised the absurdity of the project, quickly scrapping a proposed new Sydney Airport, 40 miles from the largest city in that southern continent.
Mr Johnson should take a flight from Heathrow to Montreal Dorval, once planned to be the largest airport in the world. Now named officially Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport after the Canadian Prime Minister who promoted Mirabel – crazy. (Will they rename Heathrow 'Boris International' following the same logic?). What Mr Johnson will find at Mirabel is a totally underused air cargo operation and a massive semi-derelict industrial complex.
In the 1960s the Government of Canada decided that Montreal required a brand new international airport to relieve the existing Dorval just 12 miles from the city centre. In 1968 Montreal won the 1976 Olympics. The two projects came together and on 4 October 1975 Montreal–Mirabel International Airport was opened, 34 miles from town. The cost at current terms was put at Canadian $2bn. All long haul flights were transferred to the new airport.
The Olympics came and went. Mirabel's distant location and lack of transport links made it unpopular with airlines and travellers. Montreal's economic decline, relative to Toronto, kept passenger volumes from rising to the levels originally anticipated. The international airlines were allowed to return to Dorval.
In 1997 Montreal Mirabel closed for scheduled airline traffic.
Today it is recognised as one of the world’s largest white elephants, rather like the New South China Mall in the city of Donnguan in the Pearl River Delta, the largest on earth but 99% empty.
Boris needs a rethink.
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