An Airport that Played a Key Role on 9/11 Is Getting a Makeover
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On September 11, 2001, after terror attacks in the US led Federal Aviation Administration officials to shut down US airspace, dozens of US-bound commercial flights from Europe were forced to divert. In the end, 38 flights, hauling some 6,600 passengers, touched down at Gander International Airport (YQX) in Newfoundland, Canada, thanks to the airport’s long runways and on-site equipment.
The diversions tested the limits of the airport and the tiny town in northeast Canada, with the 38 flights reportedly doubling its population in the span of hours. So significant was this day to the 7,000 residents and their village that a play was written about it. Now, some 17 years later, Gander remains an active alternate airport for the 2,000+ flights that cross the Atlantic every day, and it’s finally slated for some upgrades.
The recently announced upgrades are mostly focused on the airport’s runways, roads and taxiways, which need to be repaired for Gander’s daily air traffic and in case of another large-scale diversion. The project will include repaving the 8,900-foot long Runway 13/31, the smaller of the airport’s two runways. Both this runway and its larger counterpart are capable of handling anything from tiny propeller planes to mighty 747s and A380s — and they’ll be in even better shape to do so after construction finishes.
Originally built in the 1930s as a stopping point for overseas flights to refuel, Gander’s role in regularly scheduled commercial air travel has shifted entirely, as modern aircraft can make the North Atlantic hop with ease. Nowadays, the airport’s primary function for large commercial jets is that of a diversion point should any serious mechanical (or other) issues arise during the flight.
But it’s more than that. Ask any North American or European pilot who’s flown across the Atlantic, and they’ll certainly know Gander. Even though it’s small, its reach extends nearly halfway across the ocean. Pilots correspond with “Gander Center” until they’re passed onto Shanwick control on the other side of the pond. Consequently, these controllers handle hundreds if not thousands of large commercial jets every day. And after the US airspace closure on 9/11, Gander’s unique location is exactly why those 38 flights diverted to this tiny Canadian town.
While we don’t anticipate seeing the updated surfaces for ourselves, we’ll travel easier knowing that Gander will be prepared should any pilots deem it a necessary emergency stopping point on a future transatlantic flight.
Featured image courtesy of Gander Airport.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees