The 7 Busiest Airports in Ontario, Ranked

Written by Clemence-Maureen Feniou
Updated: October 7, 2023
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Ontario, a province in the heart of Canada, is home to a diverse and bustling network of airports that connect the region to the rest of the country and the world. These airports are not only essential hubs for transportation but also serve as gateways to explore Ontario’s rich and dynamic culture, commerce, and natural beauty.

An overview of the 7 Busiest Airports in Ontario, Ranked.

From major international airports serving millions of passengers to smaller regional airports connecting remote communities, Ontario’s aviation infrastructure is crucial to the province’s identity and economic prosperity.

We will delve into the significance, diversity, and critical features of airports in Ontario, shedding light on their history, destinations, and airlines available to regional and international travelers.

1. Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

The tarmac at an airport, showing the rear of a passenger plane and service vehicles surrounding it, with a skyline of a city behind.  Pearson International airport, Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is the 32nd busiest airport in the world.

©woodygraphs/Shutterstock.com

  • 50 million yearly passengers 

Commonly known as Pearson Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport has a rich history dating back to its opening in 1939. It was designed to be an alternative airport to the downtown Toronto Island Airport, currently known as Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. 

Located 17 miles (27 kilometers) northwest of downtown Toronto, it is Ontario and Canada’s busiest airport, serving 50 million yearly passengers.

YYZ has more than 1,300 daily flights, connecting travelers to 186 destinations in 62 countries. More than 130,000 passengers travel through the airport every day. Forty-seven domestic and international airlines fly in and out of Toronto Pearson. It is the central hub for Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada, which operates over 40% of YYZ flights. It is also a hub for Portier Airlines and WestJet. 

Advantages: Pearson Airport’s strategic location, modern facilities, and comprehensive connectivity make it a preferred choice for travelers. Its numerous runways and terminals ensure efficient operations. YYZ is connected to downtown Toronto within 25 minutes, thanks to the Union Pearson Express.

Disadvantages: High passenger volumes can lead to congestion, longer security lines, and potential delays during peak travel times.

2. Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW)

View of YOW control tower

In 1959, during the terminal building opening ceremony, a United States Air Force F-104 Starfighter did a supersonic low pass. The sonic boom shattered most of the glass in the airport.

©P199 / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

  • 3 million yearly passengers

Ottawa’s primary airport, Macdonald–Cartier International, is 6 miles (10 kilometers) from downtown Ottowa. With its first flight in 1938, YOW is now Ontario’s second busiest airport. It is also the 6th busiest in Canada, with 3 million yearly passengers in 2022. 

YOW has over 200 daily flights, connecting to 40 destinations and six countries. On average, the airport welcomes 12,000 passengers every day. Eleven airlines fly from YOW; the airport is a hub for Porter Airlines and a focus city for Air Canada and Flair Airlines. 

Advantages: Its proximity to the capital city and modern facilities make it a convenient choice for travelers. YOW’s expansion projects ensure continued growth and convenience.

Disadvantages: Limited international routes compared to major international airports may necessitate connecting flights for some destinations.

3. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)

Low flying around Billy Bishop Airport

YTZ, located in downtown Toronto, has a unique configuration.

©Olga Gabay/Shutterstock.com

  • 2.8 million yearly passengers 

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, named after World War I flying ace Billy Bishop, was completed in 1939. During WWII, the island airport was used as a military training facility. Also called Toronto Island Airport, it is located on an island and accessible by ferry or a pedestrian tunnel! 

YTZ has flights to more than 20 cities in Canada and the United States. The airport is a hub for Porter Airlines, achieving most of the flights. Air Canada is also present. 

Advantages: Its proximity to the city center, shorter security lines, and quick check-in make YTZ a convenient choice for business travelers and city explorers.

Disadvantages: Limited runway length restricts the airport to regional turboprop and smaller jet aircraft, limiting its destination options.

4. John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM)

An aerial cityscape of Hamilton, Ontario

YHM is a convenient airport for Hamilton and the surrounding cities’ inhabitants.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

  • 1.7 million yearly passengers 

John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport is in Hamilton, south of Toronto. It opened in 1940 as Mount Hope Airport and was primarily a Royal Canadian Air Force base. This airport saw significant growth since its conversion to a passenger airport in 1995. With 1.7 million yearly passengers, it is the fourth-busiest airport in Ontario. 

YHM has 23 destinations in seven countries. It is home to six airlines, including Air Transat and WestJet. The airport is also a major hub for cargo transport with five cargo airlines. 

Advantages: YHM’s lower operating costs attract budget-conscious travelers. It also serves as an alternative to Toronto Pearson, reducing congestion.

Disadvantages: Limited international flights may require travelers to transit through other airports for long-haul journeys.

5. Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT)

aerial view of Thunder Bay International Airport

This airport was created as the Fort William Municipal Airport primarily to alleviate unemployment.

©Tony Webster / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

  • 800,000 yearly passengers

Thunder Bay International Airport was created in 1938 and has become a vital transportation hub for northwestern Ontario. With 800,000 yearly passengers, it is the fifth-busiest airport in Ontario.

With over ten destinations, YQT provides domestic and international flights. Seven regular airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, fly in and out of YQT. There are also four regular charter services departing from Thunder Bay. 

Advantages: Its regional importance and modern facilities enhance accessibility to northwestern Ontario’s vast wilderness and communities.

Disadvantages: Limited international services mean travelers may need to connect through larger airports for global destinations.

6. London International Airport (YXU)

view of the outside of London International Airport

During the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force used London Airport to train new pilots.

©Alasdair McLellan / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

  • 500,000 yearly passengers

Serving southwestern Ontario since 1940, London International Airport has seen consistent growth over the years. It is the sixth-busiest airport in Ontario.

YXU hosts six carriers, including Air Canada and WestJet, providing domestic and some U.S. flights. YXU has three regular destinations. The airlines also offer several seasonal flights to other Canadian cities, Mexico, and Caribbean islands. The airport also provides services for various cargo airlines. 

The airport hosts the annual Airshow London, Canada’s largest military airshow. It features a land and air display of military aircraft from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Advantages: YXU’s manageable size, proximity to London, and ease of access make it an efficient choice for regional travel.

Disadvantages: Limited international options may require travelers to choose larger airports for overseas journeys.

7. Windsor Airport (YQG)

view of the outside of Windsor airport

YQG is a small regional airport with primarily seasonal flights.

©P199 / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

  • 300,000 yearly passengers

Windsor Airport has grown into a regional transportation hub in southern Ontario. It is also the seventh-busiest airport in Ontario. 

The airport opened in 1928. It was first under the name of Walker Airport, named after Hiram Walker, a 19th-century whiskey distiller and distributor of the Canadian Club brand. It was later renamed Windsor, the name of the city it’s located in. 

The airport services both scheduled airline flights and general aviation and is a prominent entry point for private and commercial aircraft entering Canada. YQG has six airlines, including Air Canada and Porter Airlines. It primarily offers seasonal flights, and its only regular scheduled flights are to Toronto-Pearson and Toronto-Billy Bishop airports. 

Advantages: Conveniently located near the U.S. border, YQG attracts cross-border travelers, offering ease of access to both countries.

Disadvantages: Limited international routes necessitate connections for overseas travel.

Summary of The 7 Busiest Airports in Michigan

RankAirport NamePassengers by YearNo. of Airlines
1Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)50 million47
2Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW)3 million11
3Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)2.8 million2
4John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM)1.7 million6
5Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT)800,0007
6London International Airport (YXU)500,0006
7Windsor Airport (YQG)300,0006

The photo featured at the top of this post is © motive56/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Clémence-Maureen is a writer at A-Z animals primarily covering geography, locations and travel. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Southern California, which she earned in 2023. A resident of Hawai'i, Clémence-Maureen enjoys hiking, surfind and volunteering in taro farms.

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