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Calgary International Airport

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YYC Calgary International Airport
Aéroport international de Calgary YYC
YYC logo.svg
Calgary Airport overview.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Transport Canada
Operator Calgary Airport Authority
Serves Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Hub for
Time zone MST (UTC−07:00)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC−06:00)
Elevation AMSL 3,606 ft / 1,099 m
Coordinates 51°07′21″N 114°00′48″W / 51.12250°N 114.01333°W / 51.12250; -114.01333Coordinates: 51°07′21″N 114°00′48″W / 51.12250°N 114.01333°W / 51.12250; -114.01333
YYC is located in Calgary
YYC is located in Alberta
YYC is located in Canada
YYC is located in North America
Direction Length Surface
ft m
08/26 6,200 1,890 Asphalt
11/29 8,000 2,438 Asphalt
17R/35L 12,675 3,863 Asphalt
17L/35R 14,000 4,267 Concrete
Statistics (2017)
Passengers 16,275,862
Cargo (tonnes) 147,000

YYC Calgary International Airport (IATA: YYCICAO: CYYC) is an international airport that serves the city of Calgary in Alberta, a province of Canada. It is located approximately 17 km (11 mi) northeast of downtown and covers an area of 21.36 km2 (8.25 sq mi).[3] As of 2016, the airport is the fourth-busiest in the country, catering to roughly 15.7 million travellers. The region's oil, gas, and tourism industries have helped foster growth at the airport, which has nonstop flights to an array of destinations in North America, Central America, Europe, and Asia. YYC Calgary International is also a hub for two major Canadian airlines, Air Canada and WestJet.

Built in the late 1930s, the site has since grown to house four runways, two terminal buildings for passengers, warehouses for cargo handling, and other infrastructure. The Calgary Airport Authority operates the property while paying rent to the federal government. Close to the airport is the Deerfoot Trail freeway for transport into the city, and public transit also serves the airport.


The first airport to serve Calgary opened in 1914, in the neighbourhood of Bowness. It occupied one square kilometre (0.39 sq mi) and consisted of a hut and a grass runway.[4][5] Operations shifted to a new airport southwest of the city in 1928, named Old Banff Coach Road Airport. However, issues with turbulence in the area prompted another airfield to be built the following year in Renfrew. This site was known as Calgary Municipal Airport.[5]

As the city of Calgary grew in the area surrounding the Renfrew airport, the city government decided to relocate operations another time. It purchased an area of land north of Calgary in 1938 for about $31,000; this is the site of the current airport.[4][5] Equipped with a paved runway, the airport opened on 25 September of the following year, about two weeks after Canada entered World War II. As a result, the federal government assumed control of the site in 1940, repurposing it as a fuel and maintenance stop for aircraft involved in the war effort. Regular passenger flights continued during this period.[4][5] At the end of the war, the airport had been expanded to include additional hangars and other infrastructure.[4] City officials resumed managing the airport and repurposed the new hangars as a passenger terminal.[5] An improved terminal opened in 1956, and the airport was named after Fred McCall afterward.[4][5]

Jet aircraft landed at the airport for the first time in 1961, and flights from Europe commenced the following year. The terminal received five expansions; however, the city government eventually did not have the funds to cope with rising traffic.[4][5] It proceeded to sell the site to the federal government in 1966 for $2 million. The new owner refurbished the runways and renamed the site "Calgary International Airport".[4] Eleven years later, it constructed a new terminal worth $130 million.[4][5]

The airport again came under local management in 1992 when the Calgary Airport Authority was formed, although the authority still pays rent to the federal government.[4][6] Four years later, WestJet began operations with a base at the airport, occupying an expanded area of the terminal.[5][7] Another runway was inaugurated in 2014,[8] and a new international terminal opened in 2016 at a cost of $1.6 billion, adding 24 gates.[5][9] "YYC", the IATA code for the Calgary airport, was also affixed to the airport's official name following a successful branding effort.[10]


Passenger terminals[edit]

An Air Canada Boeing 787 on Concourse D of the international terminal after arriving from Tokyo
Inside the domestic terminal
WestJet aircraft on Concourse A

The Calgary airport houses two terminals, one for domestic operations and the other for international flights. The domestic terminal itself contains three concourses labelled A, B and C; the international terminal is composed of Concourse E for United States–bound flights and Concourse D for flights to other countries.[11] Passengers travelling to the United States clear customs and immigration prior to departure at the preclearance facility.[12]

The international terminal operates under a call-to-gate system in which passengers wait in a main seating and shopping area; they then proceed to the gate once flight information is posted.[13] The two terminals are connected by both walkways and a separate path for the YYC Link service. Airport employees transport connecting passengers along this corridor in ten-seat vehicles.[9]

WestJet has criticized the design of the international terminal, which opened in 2016. The airline's CEO stated that the distance between the terminals was too long for connecting travellers and that YYC Link was insufficient to solve this problem. As a result, WestJet had to alter its schedules in order to allow additional time for passengers transiting through Calgary.[14][15] The Calgary Airport Authority responded that it did not see issues with the connections process, although it said passengers would need some time to adjust to the new facilities.[14]


The Calgary airport is equipped with four runways with the following dimensions:[1]

  • Runway 08/26 is 6,200 ft × 150 ft (1,890 m × 46 m)
  • Runway 11/29 is 8,000 ft × 200 ft (2,438 m × 61 m)
  • Runway 17R/35L is 12,675 ft × 200 ft (3,863 m × 61 m)
  • Runway 17L/35R is 14,000 ft × 200 ft (4,267 m × 61 m)

The longest runway in Canada at the time of its 2014 opening, Runway 17L/35R was built to reduce congestion and better accommodate larger, heavier aircraft: the weight of such aircraft, combined with the low air density resulting from the airport's high elevation and temperatures during the summer, means that a longer runway is necessary for take-off. Runway 17L/35R is also layered with concrete, a material more durable than the asphalt that composes the airport's other three runways.[16][17]


The airport has allotted an extensive amount of area for cargo operations, including over 3,000,000 sq ft (280,000 m2) of warehouse space. Freight airlines such as Cathay Pacific Cargo (ends 24 March 2018) and Cargolux make regular trips to Europe, Asia, and other destinations.[18][19] In 2015, the Calgary airport handled a total of 135,000 tonnes (149,000 short tons) of cargo, equivalent to 75% of all air freight in the province.[18]

Other facilities[edit]

At 91 m (299 ft), the airport's air traffic control tower was the tallest standalone control tower in Canada upon its opening in 2013; compared to the previous tower, it has space for more air traffic controllers and is situated closer to the centre of the airport, giving controllers better views of the airfield.[20] Meanwhile, the headquarters of Canadian North as well as WestJet and its subsidiary WestJet Encore are located onsite.[21][22][23] There are also two hotels on the airport property.[24]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

In 2016, airlines offered nonstop service from Calgary to various destinations in Canada as well as to 45 cities in other countries.[25] WestJet and Air Canada maintain hubs at the airport;[26][27] they were the busiest airlines in Calgary per the number of seats they offered on flights departing the city: 5,060,000 and 3,380,000, respectively. For comparison, the third-busiest airline by the same measure, United Airlines, provided 390,000 seats.[28] Ultimately, people continuing on to other destinations accounted for over 30% of total passenger traffic at YYC Calgary International.[25]

Besides connecting passengers, travellers taking part in Alberta's large oil and gas industries fuel growth at the airport. During periods of decline in these sectors of the economy, airlines such as WestJet have had to limit their flights to the city.[29][30] On the other hand, tourist attractions in the province such as Banff National Park have attracted service as well. Hainan Airlines' Calgary–Beijing route is an example.[31]

As of January 2018, the following airlines offer scheduled flights to and from Calgary:

Airlines Destinations Refs
Aeroméxico Mexico City (ends April 8, 2018)[32] [33]
Air Canada Frankfurt, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Montréal–Trudeau, Newark, Ottawa, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Seasonal: San José del Cabo
Air Canada Express Castlegar, Cranbrook, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Houston–Intercontinental, Kamloops, Kelowna, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Nanaimo, Portland (OR), Red Deer, Regina, San Francisco, Saskatoon, Victoria, Winnipeg, Yellowknife
Seasonal: Comox (begins 2 July 2018),[35] Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Seattle/Tacoma
Air Canada Rouge Las Vegas
Seasonal: Cancún, Halifax, Huatulco, Kahului, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Puerto Vallarta
Air North Edmonton, Whitehorse [36]
Air Transat Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Vancouver
Seasonal: Amsterdam, Huatulco, London–Gatwick, Punta Cana, Toronto–Pearson, Varadero
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma [38]
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare (begins 7 June 2018)[39]
British Airways London–Heathrow [41]
Central Mountain Air Edmonton, Lloydminster [42]
Condor Seasonal: Frankfurt [43]
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul [44]
Delta Connection Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma [44]
Edelweiss Air Seasonal: Zürich [45]
Frontier Airlines Denver (begins 31 May 2018)[46] [47]
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital [48]
Integra Air Bonnyville, Dawson Creek [49]
KLM Amsterdam [50]
Northern Air Peace River, Whitecourt [51]
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal: Cancún, Cayo Coco, Huatulco, Ixtapa–Zihuatanejo, Liberia (CR), Mazatlán, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, San José del Cabo, Santa Clara, Varadero [52]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco
Seasonal: Denver
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, San Francisco [53]
WestJet Abbotsford, Cancún, Comox, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Halifax, Hamilton (ON), Houston–Intercontinental, Kelowna, Kitchener/Waterloo, Las Vegas, London–Gatwick, London (ON), Los Angeles, Mexico City (begins 14 March 2018),[54] Montréal–Trudeau, New York–JFK, Orlando, Ottawa, Palm Springs, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Puerto Vallarta, Regina, San Diego, San José del Cabo, Saskatoon, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Yellowknife
Seasonal: Belize City, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver (begins 8 March 2018),[55] Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Huatulco, Ixtapa–Zihuatanejo, Kahului, Liberia (CR), Loreto, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, Nashville, Nassau, Phoenix/Mesa, San Francisco, St. John's, Varadero, Whitehorse (begins 29 June 2018),[56] Windsor
WestJet Encore Brandon, Comox, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Fort St. John, Grande Prairie, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Penticton, Regina, Saskatoon, Vancouver [57]
WestJet Link Cranbrook (begins 20 June 2018),[58] Lethbridge (begins 21 June 2018),[58] Lloydminster (begins 21 June 2018),[58] Medicine Hat (begins 22 June 2018),[58] Prince George (begins 20 June 2018)[58] [57]


In 2016, YYC Calgary International was the fourth-busiest airport in the nation in terms of the total number of passengers that transited through the airport: about 15.7 million, the highest Calgary has witnessed. Despite an ongoing recession, there was a roughly 1.3% increase over 2015.[59][60] Of the total for 2016, travellers bound for domestic destinations constituted about 71%, and people travelling to the United States and other countries amounted to 29%.[60]

Passenger volumes for the period 2013–2017 are provided in the following table:[59][60][61]

Passenger traffic at Calgary International Airport, 2010–2017
Year Passengers Change Notes
2010 12,630,695 NA
2011 12,770,988 +1.1%
2012 13,641,339 +6.8%
2013 14,316,074 +4.9% Became third-busiest airport in Canada for the first time, ahead of Montréal–Trudeau International Airport
2014 15,261,108 +6.6%
2015 15,475,759 +1.4% Again the fourth-busiest airport in the country
2016 15,680,616 +1.3%
2017 16,275,862 +3.8%

Separately, over 137,000 tonnes (151,000 short tons) of cargo passed through the airport in 2016, another record.[59]

Ground transportation[edit]

Deerfoot Trail provides freeway access to the rest of the city.[62] There is also a tunnel beneath Runway 17L/35R that links the east side of the airport site to the terminal buildings.[63] Two parking garages and a rental-car facility are situated across from the terminals.[11][64] Public transport options are also available at the airport: Buses operated by Calgary Transit link YYC Calgary International to downtown, a nearby station of the local CTrain light-rail network, and other parts of the city.[65][66]

Notable accidents and incidents[edit]

A West Coast Airlines flight from Spokane to Calgary via Cranbrook made a crash-landing shortly before the runway on 24 August 1963, although no one onboard was killed. A likely cause of the accident is the fact that the Fairchild F-27 was approaching the airport too low.[67]

Another incident occurred on the runway on 22 March 1984, when Pacific Western Airlines Flight 501 attempted to take-off. A component of the left engine broke off and hit the fuel stores in the wing, resulting in a fire that spread over the left and back portions of the Boeing 737-200. The pilots aborted take-off and exited the runway onto a taxiway, where flight attendants evacuated all passengers. While some suffered severe injuries, all the occupants survived.[68][69]



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External links[edit]

Cargo traffic at Calgary international airport, 2010–2017
Year Cargo Change Notes
2010 88,726.36 US TONS NA
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Calgary International Airport.