The Busiest Airports in Canada

Planes at Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Editorial credit: WorldStock /
Planes at Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Editorial credit: WorldStock /

Toronto Pearson International Airport, serving the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is the busiest airport in the country, although Canada prides in a highly developed air transportation system which includes over 300 airports across the entire country. 1909 was the year the country’s first flight was undertaken by J.A. McCurdy at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Canada’s first airport began operations in 1915 at Long Branch, Toronto. Major Canadian airports handle millions of passengers annually and cargo every day.

Toronto Pearson International Airport

The Toronto Pearson International Airport handled 49.5 million passengers in 2018. The airport serves the greater Toronto area, and it is situated in the adjacent city of Mississauga. Ranked as the 33rd busiest airport worldwide by total passenger traffic, the airport comes in second in North America by the number of international passengers after John F. Kennedy Airport (New York). The airport was originally named the Malton Airport, then the Toronto International Airport, before acquiring its current name in 1984. The airport was named after Lester B. Pearson who served as the country’s 14th Prime Minister and who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.

Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport handled 25.9 million passengers in 2018 to become the nation’s second busiest airport. The airport serves Metro Vancouver, and it is a hub for Pacific Coastal Airlines, Air Canada, and WestJet airlines. Flights from the airport are mainly destined for other regions in Canada and Oceania, Asia, Europe, Mexico, and the US. The airport is noted in history for serving as a base during the Second World War for Royal Canadian Air Force Training.

Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

In 2018, the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport handled 19.4 million passengers. It began operations in the 1940s and has been expanded and renovated over time. The airport serves the greater Montreal region and surrounding areas including New York and Ontario, and it is the busiest airport in Quebec. The airport, which is situated on the Island of Montreal, is the headquarters for Air Canada, Canada's national airline. The continents of Africa, North America, Europe, South America, and Asia benefit from nonstop flights facilitated by the airport’s airlines. It is operated by Aéroports de Montréal and owned by Transport Canada.

Calgary International Airport

Calgary International Airport ranks as the nation's fourth busiest airport having handled 17.3 million passengers in 2018. The airport is the headquarters of WestJet, Canada's second largest airline, and it is a hub for Air Canada and Flair Airlines. It began operating in 1938 as McCall Field, and it was renamed in 1866 as Calgary International Airport by Transport Canada. The airport serves Calgary, Alberta and its airlines offer flights to regions including the US, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as other cities in the country. The airport is operated by the Calgary Airport Authority.

Future Trends

Canada is increasingly becoming a popular education, tourism, business, and migration destination. These major factors are set to fuel the growth of air transportation in the country. Air traffic is projected to grow in Canada’s major cities, and this will necessitate the airports to expand their capacities to deal with the increase in demand.

The Busiest Airports In Canada By Passenger Traffic

RankAirportPassengers Served (2018)
1Toronto Pearson International Airport49,507,418
2Vancouver International Airport25,936,907
3Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport19,425,488
4Calgary International Airport17,343,402
5Edmonton International Airport8,254,121
6Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport5,110,801
7Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport4,500,000
8Halifax Stanfield International Airport4,316,079
9Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport2,800,000
10Kelowna International Airport2,080,372

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