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Taking Off: New YMM International Airport Ready to Soar in June 2014

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Award Winning Groundbreaking Design & Technology

The new International Airport is a state of the art, modern building with a design that fits our community perfectly as a young and forward-thinking community. The new building is a welcoming gateway for residents coming back home, and visitors who have come to discover all that Fort McMurray has to offer. But if you are leaving, there’s no better springboard to the world!

Built for Fort McMurray’s northern climate, the Fort McMurray International Airport has become the largest Cross-Laminated Timber beam project in North America! Over 1.4 million pounds of wood equaling 954,000 board feet of pine lumber has been used to construct the roof; all of which is reclaimed wood from the devastating pine beetle epidemic in B.C. This feature element helps create a warm finish to the interior of the building.

One thematic feature worth noting with the Northern Lights Wall which forms a cornerstone to the elements that animate the terminal, drawing inspiration from the Northern Lights and Boreal Forest. These elements helped the terminal be selected as one of the 11 award recipients for the Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence program.

Canadian Architect honours architectural firms across Canada with awards for building design that embody qualities of innovation and overall design excellence. The new terminal was designed by the office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers Inc. (OMB), formerly McFarlane | Green | Biggar Architecture + Design. The builder of the new international airport is Ledcor.

Why Should You Be Excited?

Bigger Building, Better Service In 2013, Fort McMurray Airport welcomed almost 1.2 million passengers through the current terminal. Here’s the catch: the original terminal was built to accommodate 250,000 people. This new terminal is five times the size of the current building and has been built to allow over 1.5 million passengers to come through our airport comfortably. With 2 baggage belts, free luggage carts, barrier free access, and an outdoor courtyard, travelers will be treated to a first class experience.

As Canada’s sixteenth-busiest airport, YMM has been the fastest-growing airport in Canada for the last decade, and has recently landed many new flight destinations, including non-stop service to Las Vegas, Kelowna and Vancouver on WestJet.

So what does this all mean for our region? This $258-million investment will support Fort McMurray....which is Canada’s fastest growing city. It will also contribute to RMWB’s status as a diverse, modern and robust community. Plus, the airport alone generates over $412-million in economic activity for the Region. In fact, 1,900 jobs have been created thanks to this project, with $55.5-million in direct labour income.

Fort McMurray International Air Show

What better way to celebrate the opening of the new airport terminal than with a ribbon cutting at 30,000 feet?

The Fort McMurray International Air Show has partnered with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and the Fort McMurray International Airport to make this opening one to remember. With the world-renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the Canadian SkyHawks Parachute Team, the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet, Super Dave, Team Rocket, Hawk One, the T-33 and Fort McMurray’s own Michael Plouffe flying through the sky, the Air Show is a great reminder of all that there is to celebrate in Fort McMurray!

Did we mention we’re hungry?

Check out the list of dynamic food & beverage and retail operators slated to open inside the new terminal:

Earls Kitchen & Bar

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria


Tim Hortons

Jugo Juice

Burger King

Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken & Taters


Elements (skin care)

Nicholby’s Convenience & Duty Free

Best Buy Express

10 of our Favourite New Features

1. 4 Aircraft Bridges: Neither mosquitos nor blowing snow will touch you, thanks to these four new aircraft bridges!

2. 16 Retail and Food & Beverage Outlets: Is there any better way to kill time while waiting for a flight than eating, drinking and retail therapy? We didn’t think so, either.

3. 2 Full-Service Restaurants: Speaking of eating and drinking, can we interest you in some authentic Neapolitan pizza or gelato at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, or some steaks, burgers or appies at Earls?

4. Plug-Ins in All Seats: You know that huge annoyance that comes with an almost-dead battery? Don’t even worry about it. Every seat has its own plug-in...keeping you fully-charged until take-off!

5. Free Wi-Fi: All of this free surfing is going to make #4 even more attractive!

6. More than 2,200 Powered and Extra-Wide Parking Stalls: Door dings? Vehicles that won’t start in the winter? These problems will be a thing of the past thanks to these extra touches that make the new terminal’s parking lot the perfect space for your ride (while on the ground).

7. 220 Square-Foot Digital Advertising Screen: Forget your glasses at home? Pfftt...this new screen will make your two eyes feel like four!

8. Displays from Local Artists and from Across Western Canada: Sure, people-watching in an airport can be fun, but these art displays are sure to capture your attention and add a certain beauty to the new terminal.

9. Customer Service and Visitor Information Centre: Whether you’re new to terminal, or new to Fort McMurray in general, this Centre will make sure you know where you need to be, and why you need to be there! 10. Outdoor Courtyard and Pet Relief Area: When nature calls your four-legged friend, this new Pet Relief Area will be a welcome sight!

THE NEW YMM BRAND The new brand of our international airport sets the stage for a bold new future of air service to our region. Visit and follow them on Twitter and Facebook to learn more!


1928: Snye water-way allows planes to take off and land

1936: First landing strip site chosen and cleared allowing light airplanes to make trips to Edmonton

1942: Runway built by Canadian Pacific Airways United States Air Force takes over the airfield and makes further improvements

1944: Custody of the Airstrip is transferred from the USAF to the Canadian Department of Transport

1948: Canadian Pacific Airways Limited begins scheduled air service to Edmonton for $34.00 round trip

1954: Runway is lengthened to 6,000 feet and is paved

1958: Pacific Western Airways takes over scheduled service from Canadian Pacific Airways

1962: Air Terminal building is built

1974: Air Terminal building is modified to accommodate increase in passengers

1980: A 4,500 ft paved taxiway is completed on the North side of the runway to accommodate an increase in traffic

1981: A permanent control tower is commissioned

1986: Fort McMurray Airport opens the existing 3,000 m² (32,300 ft²) Terminal Building. It is built to accommodate 250,000 passengers per year

2001: WestJet begins service to Fort McMurray

2007: The runway is extended to its current length of 7,500 ft.

2010: Airport Authority acquires the Airport from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

2011: Fort McMurray Airport becomes Canada’s 15th Busiest Airport

2012: YMM breaks all records for the year with over 958,000 passengers; YMM becomes the fastest growing Airport in Canada with 17% growth in passenger traffic

2012: YMM launches charter service to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with Sunwing Airlines; Canada Border Service Agency begins border clearance service at YMM

June 2014: The New Fort McMurray International Airport Grand Opening!

Photo captions:

THE GROUND BREAKING (AUGUST 2011): Left to Right: Scott Clements, President & CEO, Fort McMurray Airport Authority; For mer Premier Ed Stelmach, Province of Alberta; Lloyd Snelgrove, Finance Minister, Province of Alberta; Jeff Fitzner, Former Director, Fort McMurray Authority; Mayor Melissa Blake, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo; Bob Walker, Vice President, Ledcor Construction; Doug Ellett, President & General Manager E-Construction

Aerial shot of the new current (North Terminal) in foreground and new International Airport in the background

Terminal building 2012

Renderings courtesy of the office of McFarlane Biggar Architects and Design

Project team in new terminal

Jet bridges prepared for passengers

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria’s Brick Oven

Scott Clements, President and CEO, Fort McMurray Airport Authority pictured with local artist Lucas Seaward

All seating containing electrical and USB plug-ins.

Cross lamented timber beams, recovered pine beetle wood