Airport on Montreal's South Shore to offer flights to Canadian cities as part of major expansion

Saint-Hubert Airport says the new terminal will help turn the area into 'a true aeronautical hub.' (Submitted by Saint-Hubert Airport - image credit)
Saint-Hubert Airport says the new terminal will help turn the area into 'a true aeronautical hub.' (Submitted by Saint-Hubert Airport - image credit)

A terminal for commercial flights from Montreal's South Shore to cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax is at the heart of Saint-Hubert Airport's expansion plans, which are expected to cost at least $200 million.

The terminal will cover 40,000 square metres east of the airport and host up to four million passengers a year. Toronto-based Porter Airlines will operate out of the airport located in Longueuil, Que., though the airport says it is inviting more airlines to do so as well.

There are also plans to build a 130-room Holiday Inn Express Hotel next to the airport that would open at the same time as the terminal.

The project was unveiled on Monday during a news conference with Quebec Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault and Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier.

Flights to Toronto would land either at Pearson International or Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Pascan, an airline based in Longueuil, also plans to increase the number of regional flights it offers.

Submitted by Saint-Hubert Airport
Submitted by Saint-Hubert Airport

"Our terminal meets a growing need to ensure a service of quality for travellers in Quebec. We also intend to contribute to the development of new technologies in the field of aviation," Saint-Hubert Aiport CEO Yanic Roy said in a statement.

In 2018, the airport inaugurated a new runway capable of handling larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 737-200.

While trying to position itself as a major player in the aviation sector, the airport has dealt with noise complaints from nearby residents. Earlier this month, the city and the airport reached an agreement to ban commercial flights from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting next year.

Group protests expansion

Regardless, a group of protesters showed up at the news conference Monday, holding signs in a show of opposition to the expansion.

Among them was Marie-Pierre Brunelle. She speaks for a Longueuil citizens' committee, Coalition halte-air Saint-Hubert, that is calling for a moratorium on airport development until the potential impact on health, climate, economy and noise has been fully analyzed and discussed.

"There are no impact studies of any kind that have been presented," she said. "So, until then, how can you really choose a development that's good for everyone?"

Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada
Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada

She said only partial information has been provided to citizens about the number of flights and potential noise that it may create in the area, raising significant concerns among those who live nearby. There are people not just in Longueuil, but also in the nearby Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville bothered by the noise, she said.

"Some of these politicians, there's no communication," she said.

While officials are promising quieter planes, she said, there are always exceptions that may come up and that's why her group is calling for impact studies as well as a clear plan to enforce restrictions on noise during the day and at night.

Quiet planes promised

Longueuil's mayor said additional air traffic at the airport will not affect that commitment.

"We wanted to make sure the development project didn't accentuate problems related to noise," Fournier said.

Michael Deluce, the president and CEO of Porter Airlines, said the planes that will be used for the flights — the De Havilland Dash 8-400 and the Embraer E195-E2 — are the "quietest aircrafts in their class."

The airport,  which opened in 1927, was once a military base and now is home to private flight school and several regional airlines.

Currently, about 200 airplanes fly out of Saint-Hubert Airport daily.

Work on the new terminal will begin in the spring and is expected to be completed by fall 2024.