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Two More Airports Are Fighting Over Using a City Name, This Time in Canada Where a Lawsuit Is Already Underway

Two More Airports Are Fighting Over Using a City Name, This Time in Canada Where a Lawsuit Is Already Underway

a city with trees in the background

There’s yet another legal storm brewing over an airport’s simple desire to use the name of the city that it is based in its name. In this case, the dispute is taking place in Canada, and more specifically, Montreal, where Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is suing a much smaller rival with big plans.

Earlier this year, Saint-Hubert Airport decided to pursue a major rebrand as part of a big push to develop the airport and that meant making passengers aware of where the airport is actually located.

Just 15 kilometres from downtown Montreal and with plans to provide a free electric shuttle bus to and from the city centre, Saint-Hubert plucked for a much more geographic name, rebranding as Montreal Metropolitan Airport.

The name change has irked Montreal-Trudeau International Airport – which is actually several kilometres further away from downtown Montreal than its much smaller rival – and is now going to court in an attempt to stop the name change.

In court filings in the Quebec Superior Court, Montreal-Trudeau International Airport argues that having two airports using ‘Montreal’ in their name will sow confusion among passengers.

Relying on a technicality to try to convince the court to issue an injunction in their favour, Montreal-Trudeau will also argue that its rival should be barred from calling using the city’s name because it is located on Montreal’s South Shore and not on the island of Montreal.

Those arguments have fallen flat with Montreal Metropolitan Airport – which is also calling itself the Met for short.

“ADM (Aéroports de Montréal) doesn’t have the monopoly on airports for Montrealers, and we believe its in our rights to have this name,” commented Simon-Pierre Diamond, vice president of the Met.

“There is a new player in town and fighting over the name in court to protect a monopoly isn’t the way to play,” Diamond continued.

Not that passengers have to worry just yet. The Met doesn’t intend to start growing until next year when construction on a new nine-gate terminal is completed. With any luck, however, the airport hopes to serve four million passengers per year, connecting Montreal with 25 destinations.

The dispute in Montreal sounds pretty familiar, as a nearly identical legal battle is currently taking place in San Francisco, where San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is trying to sue Oakland Airport (OAK) because it recently approved a name change to San Francisco Bay Airport.

SFO claims the Port of Oakland is infringing its trademark by using San Francisco Bay in its name even though OAK is located in San Francisco Bay. And just like in Montreal, SFO is also claiming that the name change over at Oakland will confuse passengers.

“The Port disputes that the new name will create confusion with consumers as passengers booking flights into the region—like travelers to other major metropolitan areas throughout the world—will understand that the San Francisco Bay Area can contain more than one airport,” a spokesperson for OAK recently fire back.

“The San Francisco’s City Attorney’s decision to pursue litigation is an attempt to stop consumer education, prevent expanded air travel options for Bay Area residents and visitors, and is a misguided use of San Francisco taxpayer dollars,” slammed Port Attorney Mary Richardson earlier this month.

We stand ready and willing to partner with SFO to increase choices for travellers and invite any productive dialogue to this end,” Richardson continued.

Matt’s take

If SFO and YUL are so concerned about passengers getting confused about two airports in the same metropolitan area using the city name, imagine their horror at what passengers flying to or from London in the United Kingdom face.

London has six official airports with the city name in the title – even though some of them are nowhere near central London. Of course, there’s London City Airport and London Heathrow Airport, which are within London proper, but then there’s London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stanstead and London Southend.

Even the historic university city of Oxford, famous in its own right, wants to get in on the fact, with the city’s airport officially called London Oxford Airport.

View Comment (1)
  • ADM operates Trudeau (Dorval) but it also operates Mirabel. Both have the Montreal name. Why pick on Montreal Metropolitan Airport?

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