Ottawa Macdonald Cartier Airport Guide
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Your Complete Guide to Ottawa Macdonald Cartier Airport

Ottawa International Airport serves Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, found in the Ontario province of the country. As its name suggests, it is an international destination, with flights to a wide variety of locations. It is also served by a large number of significant airline companies. It has the official IATA code of YOW, and its ICAO code is listed as CYOW. It is also known as the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, in honour of John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier. In 2011, Ottawa Airport handled just over 4.6 million passengers, and is therefore rated as the sixth busiest in terms of passenger traffic in the country.

The physical address of Ottawa Airport is 1000 Airport Parkway Private, Ottawa, Ontario K1V 9B4. It is found approximately 10.2km, or 6.3 miles south of downtown Ottawa, in the Riverside South area. It is particularly nearby to the Hylands Golf Club and Merivale, while Greenboro and Riverside Park are found just north of the airport grounds. On a larger scale, Ottawa are just south of Gatineau, a city in the province of Quebec, and north of Ogdensburg, a city in the United States, approximately 72km from Ottawa. To the east is the large Canadian city of Montreal, as well as the Montreal-Trudeau Airport, and south-west of Ottawa is Toronto, with the largest urban conglomeration in the country. The airports of Montreal and Toronto, together with Ottawa, form the Eastern Triangle, known as one of the busiest air corridors in Canada.

The airport of Ottawa is easily reached by motor vehicle, as a number of large roads lead in the direction, even though a major highway does not run directly past it. The nearest is the Trans-Canada Highway, or the Queensway Highway 417, that travels through the city from east to west. The highway is used for access to the roads in the vicinity of the airport. These roads include Walkley Road from the east, Hunt Club Road from the west and Bronson Avenue from downtown Ottawa. To the far west is the Highway 416, or the Veterans Memorial Highway, leading south towards Ogdensburg and the 401 Highway to Toronto. The Highway 417 is used to travel from Ottawa to Montreal. The airport is also served by buses and taxies, although it has no train station. The public bus Route 97 runs between the airport and downtown Ottawa, and taxis are available to or from any destination. The airport bus provides access to the city’s light rail transit system as well.

Ottawa Airport is not a hub for any airline company, but is still an important airport for the carriers of Air Canada, Air Canada Express, WestJet, Air Transat, Porter Airlines and many others. The airport is considered as a gateway to the eastern Arctic, via Iqaluit, and it serves many cities in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. The majority of passengers travel on domestic flights, to destinations which include Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Yellowknife and Halifax, while only about 680,000 to 750,000 passengers are on transborder flights, and 340,000 to 440,000 are flying internationally. Cities in the United States served by the Ottawa International airline companies include Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Detroit and Boston, while other international flights head for Frankfurt, London, Cancun, Punta Cana, Montego Bay and Puerto Vallarta. Additional airline companies include First Air, Shuttle America, SkyWest Airlines, Air Wisconsin, Republic Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines, CanJet, Canadian North, American Eagle and Bearskin Airlines.

Flight activity in Ottawa began in the very early twentieth century, long before the airport was completely developed. Initially, the Hunt Club Field made its mark in aviation, and thereafter, the official name of the airfield become the Uplands Aerodrome. The Ottawa Flying Club established in 1928 was another important organisation part of Ottawa Airport’s history. Due to lack of finance, the airport was not significantly improved before the outbreak of World War II, however, the Department of National Defence took over the land and built further facilities during the war. The airport then also became a Service Flying Training School for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and further land was purchased. Military activities at the Uplands Aerodrome continued for some time after the conclusion of the war, and by the end of the 1950’s, it had the highest volume of aircraft movements recorded at any airport in Canada. It’s control tower was also the busiest in the country. 1959 saw 307,097 takeoffs and landings.

Civilian traffic increased at the aerodrome, and the need for a terminal building was inevitable. However, upon its near completion, a disastrous military demonstration caused much damage to the new building. A United States Air Force F-104 Starfighter passed low over the airport and accidentally went supersonic. The sonic boom that was the result shattered the terminal’s windows, damaged ceiling tiles, structural beams and door and window frames. The opening of the new terminal was then delayed until April 1960. In 1964, Uplands Aerodrome became known as the Ottawa Airport, and in 1975, the Airport Parkway was opened, providing an easier way of access for passengers. The capacity of the current terminal was only 900,000, but by 1980, Ottawa was handling over two million passengers per annum. A renovation plan was then set in motion to improve the facilities. In 1993, the airport was officially named as the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International.

At the turn of the millennium, the airport received a number of enhancements, including a new terminal in 2003, and extensions to the building in later years. The domestic and international holdroom was expanded by twelve gates. Today the new terminal is an extremely modern, functional and attractive building, with all necessary passenger facilities. It has three levels – Level 1 for arrivals, Level 2 for holdrooms and security screening processes, and Level 3 is the location of the check-in counters and food court. There are numerous shops and restaurants available, two lounges (the Maple Leaf Lounge operated by Air Canada and the Porter Lounge operated by Porter Airlines), currency exchange facilities, bank machines, meeting rooms, a chapel, lost and found services, baggage storage facilities and information counters. The airport has two long runways in the south field as well, designed for jet airliners. It is also one of eight airports in Canada with US border preclearance facilities.

Ottawa International has won several awards for its excellent service and facilities. In 2011, it was honoured with the ‘Best North American Airport’ award by ASQ (Airport Service Quality), and was also named as second in the world in the 2.5 million passenger category. In 2010, Ottawa Airport was named as the ‘Best Airport in the World’ for the 2.5 million passenger category. The airport has also been recognised for its contribution to tourism (along with Air Canada), and was the winner in 2010 of three Airport Revenue News Best Airport Concessions Awards.

Additional Ottawa Airport information can be found on various online websites, or the airport can be contacted at the following telephone numbers: 613-248-2125 or 613-248-2141.