Gander International Airport

Coordinates: 48°56′51″N 54°33′36″W / 48.94750°N 54.56000°W / 48.94750; -54.56000
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gander International Airport
Airport typePublic
OwnerTransport Canada[1]
OperatorGander International Airport Authority
ServesGander, Newfoundland and Labrador
Time zoneNST (UTC−03:30)
 • Summer (DST)NDT (UTC−02:30)
Elevation AMSL496 ft / 151 m
Coordinates48°56′51″N 54°33′36″W / 48.94750°N 54.56000°W / 48.94750; -54.56000
Transport Canada airport diagram
Transport Canada airport diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
03/21 10,200 3,109 Asphalt
13/31 8,900 2,713 Asphalt
09/27 1,875 572 Asphalt
Statistics (2022)
Aircraft movements33,215
Sources: Canada Flight Supplement[2]
Environment Canada[3]
Movements from Statistics Canada[4]
Passengers from Gander Airport[5]

Gander International Airport (IATA: YQX, ICAO: CYQX) is located in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and is operated by the Gander International Airport Authority. Canadian Forces Base Gander shares the airfield but is a separate entity from the airport. The airport is sometimes referred to as the "Crossroads of the World",[6] and is classified as an international airport by Transport Canada.[7]


Early years and prominence[edit]

Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938, with its first landing on January 11 of that year, by Captain Douglas Fraser flying a Fox Moth of Imperial Airways. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world.[8] Its official name until 1949 was "Newfoundland Airport".

In 1940, the operation of the Newfoundland Airport was assigned by the Dominion of Newfoundland to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and it was renamed "RCAF Station Gander" in 1941. The airfield was heavily used by RAF Ferry Command and Air Transport Command for transporting newly built aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean to the European Theatre, as well as for staging operational anti-submarine patrols dedicated to hunting U-boats in the northwest Atlantic. Thousands of aircraft flown by the United States Army Air Corps through the changeover to the United States Army Air Forces and by the RCAF destined for the European Theatre travelled through Gander.

Lockheed Hudson Mark IIIs prepared for their trans-Atlantic ferry flights at Gander in 1942

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) also established Naval Radio Station Gander at the airfield, using the station as a listening post to detect the transmissions and location of enemy submarines and warships.

Following the war, the RCAF handed operation of the airfield back to the dominion government in March 1946, although the RCN's radio station remained and the military role for the entire facility was upgraded through the Cold War. The Canadian federal government changed the name to "Gander Airport" after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. It opened the current passenger terminal in 1959.[9]

Transatlantic refueling stop[edit]

On 16 September 1945, the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am DC-4, departed Gander for Shannon in western Ireland.[10] On 24 October 1945, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through Gander.

Following Newfoundland's entry into Confederation, the government renamed the airport "Gander International Airport", and it came under the administration of Canada's federal Department of Transport. Numerous improvements were made to the runways and terminals.

Gander is near the great circle route between eastern North America and Europe. Starting in the 1940s it was a refueling stop for transatlantic flights and continued in this role through the early 1960s and in some cases into the 1990s. Carriers at Gander during this era included:

  • Aeroflot operated Ilyushin Il-86 widebody flights during the 1980s and early 1990s between Moscow and such long-range destinations as New York and Havana. Due to the IL-86's limited range of approximately 2,000 mi (3,200 km), the flights would make refueling stops at both Shannon and Gander en route to the final destination.[11] The Boeing 747-200s of the same era had typical ranges from 5,000–6,000 mi (8,000–9,700 km) and were much more sought after by international airlines.[12] The IL-86 was used almost exclusively by Aeroflot and successor post-Soviet airlines.[13]
  • Air France ran several services through Gander connecting Paris and Shannon to Montreal, Boston, and New York in the 1950s.[14]
  • American Overseas Airlines used Gander as a stop for Lockheed Constellation flights between New York and London from 1947.[15]
  • British Overseas Airways Corporation operated Constellations on London-Shannon-Gander-New York, London-Glasgow-Gander-New York, and London-Glasgow-Gander-Montreal routings from 1947.[16] By 1960, the Gander stop was only used as an alternative to a Glasgow or Shannon stop for Bristol Britannia service to Montreal and Toronto.[17]
  • Interflug flights between East Germany and Cuba would stop to refuel in Gander, until the airline began using Airbus A310s in 1989.[18]
  • KLM used Gander as a stop on Amsterdam-Glasgow-Gander-New York service from 1946.[19]
  • Pan American World Airways used Gander as a stop for transatlantic Douglas DC-4 service between New York-Idlewild and Shannon (continuing to London and Lisbon) starting in 1946.[20] Gander remained in use in 1960 as a stop for Douglas DC-7 services between New York and Scandinavia, although other transatlantic flights bypassed Gander by that point.[21]
  • Sabena operated Brussels-Shannon-Gander-New York service from 1949 using Douglas DC-6s.[22]
  • Scandinavian Airlines operated Stockholm-Oslo/Copenhagen-Prestwick-Gander-New York service from 1946.[23]
  • Trans-Canada Air Lines used Gander as a stop for transatlantic service to London from 1946 and also operated local service from Gander to St. John's and Sydney.[24]
  • Trans World Airlines operated Boston-Gander-Shannon and Boston-Gander-Azores-Lisbon services from 1947 using Constellations, with onward service to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and India.[25]

Runway 04/22 was extended from 8,400 to 10,500 ft (2,560 to 3,200 m) in 1971.[26]

With the advent of jets with longer range in the 1960s, most flights no longer needed to refuel. Gander has decreased in importance, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic control centres (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control in western Scotland) which direct the high-level North Atlantic Tracks. Most aircraft travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to at least one of these air traffic controls.

Some commercial transatlantic flights still use Gander as a refuelling stop; most notably, some American legacy carriers (United Airlines and Delta Air Lines in particular) who use the Boeing 757 to connect smaller European cities with their major US hubs.[27] The 757 is particularly affected in this respect, as it was not an aircraft intended or designed for transatlantic flights.[28] This practice has been controversial, since strong headwinds over the Atlantic Ocean during the winter months can result in the flights being declared "minimum fuel", forcing refuelling stops at Gander in order to safely complete their journeys.[29]

During the Cold War, Gander was notable for the number of persons from Communist nations who defected there (including Soviet chess player and pianist Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, Cuban Olympic swimmer Rafael Polinario,[30] and the Vietnamese woman famously photographed as a naked girl fleeing a napalmed village, Phan Thi Kim Phuc). It was one of the few refueling points where the smaller airplanes used by airlines that served the Eastern Bloc could stop en route from Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.[31]

On 12 December 1985, Gander was the site of the Arrow Air Flight 1285 disaster, in which a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 with 256 on board, mostly soldiers from the US Army 101st Airborne Division, crashed during takeoff, probably due to being overweight and experiencing atmospheric icing; there were no survivors. The crash was, and remains, as of April 2024, the deadliest airplane accident on Canadian soil.[32]

Gander International Airport Authority[edit]

The Gander International Airport Authority (GIAA; French: Autorité aéroportuaire de Gander) was formed in 1996[33] by the Government of Canada, which was divesting its direct control of airports across the country to similar operating agencies. Previously, Gander was operated by the Government of Newfoundland from 1938 to 1942 and 1945 to 1949[34] before transferring to the Government of Canada when Newfoundland became a province.[35] Its mission is to operate the airport in a self-sufficient fashion. It receives its revenues from landing fees on airlines, departure fees on passengers, parking revenues and facility rentals. The revenues are used for operating and capital expenses.

The GIAA only operates the civil airport and does not oversee the nearby Gander (James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre) Heliport nor CFB Gander.

Operation Yellow Ribbon (September 2001)[edit]

Following the September 11 attacks on September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed, Gander International played host to 38 airliners, totaling 6,122 passengers and 473 crew,[36] as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax. The 6,595 passengers and crew accounted for the third highest total of passengers that landed at a Canadian airport involved in the operation, behind Vancouver and Halifax.

A major reason that Gander received so much traffic was its ability to handle large aircraft and because Transport Canada and Nav Canada instructed pilots coming from Europe to avoid major airports in Central Canada, such as Toronto-Pearson and Montréal-Dorval.[37] The reception these travellers received in the central Newfoundland communities near the airport has been one of the most widely reported happy stories surrounding that day.

To honour the people of Gander and Halifax for their support during the operation, Lufthansa named a new Airbus A340-300 "Gander/Halifax" on May 16, 2002. That airplane is listed with the registration D-AIFC,[38] D-AIFC had been diverted to Gander during Operation Yellow Ribbon, and was the first aircraft of that fleet with a city name from outside of Germany.

The airport was the site for Canada's memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the attack, over which Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Transport Minister David Collenette, US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, and provincial and local officials presided. 2,500 of the 6,600 people that were diverted there the year before also attended the ceremony.

The musical stage show Come from Away and its film adaptation are based around the experiences of residents of Gander in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and those affected by the forced landings.


Officials at Gander International Airport stated in 2006 that the future for the airport is grim unless the federal government provides funding to cover costs. Over 50% of all aircraft operating from the air field are military, and do not pay landing fees.[39] However, domestic passenger traffic increased by over seven percent in 2006, while weekly cargo flights from Iceland show some promise of expansion.

The terminal building—built in the 1950s and noted for its modernist design and heritage architecture—still includes many of its original furnishings and fixtures. In April 2014, Gander Airport Authority made plans to abandon the existing terminal building due to high operating costs and replace it with a new terminal a quarter of the size.[40] In 2017, the airport announced the existing terminal would instead be renovated and downsized, at a cost of $26.4 million.[41]


Runway at Gander International Airport


Gander has two active runways: runway 13/31 which is 8,900 ft × 150 ft (2,713 m × 46 m), and runway 03/21 (changed from 04/22 in August 2004) which measures 10,200 ft × 150 ft (3,109 m × 46 m) and underwent a $10 million comprehensive rehabilitation project, completed in September 2012.

The airport's runway 03/21 was designated as an emergency landing runway for NASA's Space Shuttle orbiter. The airport is also an important emergency landing runway for large aircraft in transatlantic operation in the ETOPS system, which requires aircraft to always have less than a certain distance from a suitable landing site.[42] For many two-engine aircraft this is two or three hours with malfunction in one engine.

Fire services[edit]

Gander Airport Safety and Airside Operations is responsible for fire and rescue operations using three vehicles at their station within the airport. It also has a mutual aid agreement with the Town of Gander Fire Department to provide additional fire fighting services.[43]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Air Canada Express Halifax
Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau,[44] Toronto–Pearson
Exploits Valley Air Fogo
PAL Airlines Churchill Falls, Goose Bay, St. John's, Wabush
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal: Punta Cana

Fixed-base operators[edit]

The following fixed-base operators (FBOs) are based at Gander International Airport:[2]


Accidents and incidents[edit]

The crash site of the DC-4 on Newfoundland

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Airport Divestiture Status Report". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 16 July 2020 to 0901Z 10 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Synoptic/Metstat Station Information". Archived from the original on December 1, 2011.
  4. ^ "Aircraft movements, by class of operation, airports with NAV CANADA services and other selected airports, monthly". Statistics Canada. December 21, 2022. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  5. ^ "GIAA 2022 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  6. ^ "Stepping inside an artifact: A visit to Gander International Airport | The Channel".
  7. ^ Advisory Circular (AC) No. 302-032 Subject: Designation of international airports in Canada
  8. ^ "Gander Airport and World War II". Archived from the original on May 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "갠더 국제공항". (in Korean). Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  10. ^ "Shannon Airport". Clare County Library. Archived from the original on July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  11. ^ Archived July 28, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, Stoff, Joshua, "John F. Kennedy International Airport," p.100
  12. ^ Jenkins 2000, p.43
  13. ^ Archived July 31, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, John Pike, "Il-86 Camber," Retrieved July 28, 2017
  14. ^ "Air France timetable, 1953". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  15. ^ "AOA timetable, 1947". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  16. ^ "BOAC timetable, 1947". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  17. ^ "BOAC timetable, 1960". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  18. ^ Kern, Ingolf (June 23, 2008). "50 Jahre Interflug: Was von der DDR-Staatsfluggesellschaft blieb". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on October 6, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  19. ^ "KLM timetable, 1946". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  20. ^ "Pan Am timetable, 1946". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  21. ^ "Pan Am timetable, 1960". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  22. ^ "Sabena timetable, 1949". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  23. ^ "SAS timetable, 1946". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  24. ^ "Trans-Canada Air Lines timetable, 1946". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  25. ^ "TWA timetable, 1947". Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  26. ^ Aviation Daily May 21, 1971 p117, November 8, 1971 p47
  27. ^ Higgins, Michelle (July 29, 2007). "The Flights Are Long. The Planes Are Cramped". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
  28. ^ Clark, Andrew. "Continental transatlantic flights run low on fuel". The Guardian. Retrieved April 8, 2008.
  29. ^ Paur, Jason. "High Winds Forcing Pitstops On Transatlantic Flights". Wired. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  30. ^ Delaware, Andrew. "Real Athlete: Olympic Swimmer & Water Polo Player Rafael Polinario". Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  31. ^ Martin, Douglas (February 13, 1985). "A Canada Airport Lures Would-Be Defectors". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2021.
  32. ^ a b Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  33. ^ "Operational Structure | FlyGander | Gander International Airport | Newfoundland". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  34. ^ "Gander Airport Historical Society". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  35. ^ "Browse Happy FlyGander | Gander International Airport | Newfoundland". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  36. ^ Mercer, Greg (April 25, 2022). "Gander's famous airport hopes the past is a big part of its future". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 31, 2023. On Sept. 11, 2001, Gander International hosted 38 planes, with 6,122 passengers and 473 crew, that were rerouted due to the terrorist attacks
  37. ^ "NAV CANADA and the 9/11 Crisis". Nav Canada. 2009. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  38. ^ D-AIFC at Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ "Gander airport warns it could close without Ottawa's help". CBC News. Retrieved July 20, 2006.
  40. ^ "Gander airport to be traded-in for new terminal". CBC News. April 29, 2014. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  41. ^ Wright, Reg. "GIAA will pursue a renovation for its aging Air Terminal Building". FlyGander | Gander International Airport | Newfoundland.
  42. ^ "Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 29, 2017.
  43. ^ "The status of airport security". September 7, 2011. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  44. ^ "Air Canada Affirms Market Leadership by Expanding its North American Network this Summer as Recovery Accelerates - Feb 22, 2022".
  45. ^ Stevens, James (July 6, 2006). The Maw: Searching for the Hudson Bombers. Trafford. pp. 41–43. ISBN 978-1412063845.
  46. ^ a b c d "Gander Airport, NL profile - Aviation Safety Network".
  47. ^ "Accident Consolidated B-24D Liberator 589, 04 Sep 1943".
  48. ^ "Gander Airport Historical Society".
  49. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas DC-4-1009 OO-CBG Gander, NF". September 18, 1946. Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  50. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-47A-30-DK (DC-3) NC17645".
  51. ^ "Newfoundland & Labrador | Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives".
  52. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-47A-1-DK (DC-3C) N4997E Waterville, NL".
  53. ^ Accident description for OK-WAI at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on September 23, 2013.
  54. ^ Kennedy, Alex (July 28, 2023). "Pilot seat that caused helicopter crash at 9 Wing Gander didn't meet safety standards, report finds". CBC News. Archived from the original on January 19, 2024. Retrieved April 3, 2024.

External links[edit]