History of the Fort McMurray International Airport

Early History

The first flights to Fort McMurray in the late 1920s used the same waterways that barges and steamboats used at the turn of the 20th-century to transport people and cargo to the area. It wasn’t until 1936 that the first landing strip for light planes was built to connect Fort McMurray with Edmonton.

A succession of longer runways were built over the next 20 years, first by Canadian Pacific Airways, then by the United States Air Force during the Second World War, and later by Pacific Western Airways during the late 1950s to 1960s. Air terminals and longer runways were built over the next 30 years by the Government of Canada, with a permanent control tower commissioned in 1981 and a larger terminal opened in 1986 to accommodate 250,000 passengers a year.

A New Authority

In 1999, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo created the Regional Airport Commission to take over ownership the airport from the federal government. WestJet began serving Fort McMurray in 2001. In 2007, the runway was extended to its current length of 2,286 metres (7,500 feet).

In December 2009, Fort McMurray Airport was incorporated as an Airport Authority. The first Airport Authority Board was formed in January 2010 to become the Fort McMurray Airport Authority (FMAA). The newly formed organization acquired the airport from the municipality and took the first steps to expand.


Rapid economic growth in the early 2010s spurred Fort McMurray Airport (YMM) to become Canada's 16th busiest airport. Public transit service was added in 2012 to connect the airport with Fort McMurray. YMM shattered new records in 2013, serving nearly 1.2 million passengers – nearly 25 per cent growth in passenger traffic that made the airport the fastest growing in Canada.

New flights to new destinations were added. YMM launched charter service to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with Sunwing Airlines in 2012 after receiving border clearance service from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). In 2013, United Airlines added non-stop daily service to Denver, the first scheduled passenger service to the United States. CBSA established permanent service during the autumn of 2013, allowing YMM to achieve international status.

For the latest news on the airport, visit the YMM News webpage.