London Heathrow Airport

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"Heathrow" redirects here. For Heathrow, the village, see Heathrow, London.
London Heathrow Airport

<tr><th colspan="2" align="left" valign="top">Airport type</th><td colspan="2" valign="top">Public</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" align="left" valign="top">Operator</th><td colspan="2" valign="top">BAA</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" align="left" valign="top">Serves</th><td colspan="2" valign="top">London</td></tr>

Elevation AMSL 82 ft (25 m)
Coordinates 51°28′15″N, 000°27′38″W
Direction Length Surface
ft m
09L/27R 12,799 3,901 Grooved Asphalt
09R/27L 12,008 3,660 Grooved Asphalt

London Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHRICAO: EGLL), often referred to as Heathrow, is the third busiest airport in the world, after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare. Heathrow, however, handles more international passengers than any other airport. Heathrow is the United Kingdom's busiest and best-connected airport, as well as being Europe's largest (See 2.1 Busiest Airport Claims).

The airport is located at the southern end of the London Borough of Hillingdon, 15 miles (24 km) west of Charing Cross in Central London. It has two parallel main runways running east-west and four terminals. A new terminal, Terminal 5, is under construction and there are plans to redevelop or rebuild other terminals.

Heathrow Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P527) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.

Heathrow is situated at the edge of Greater London. It is surrounded by built-up areas to the north (Harlington, and Cranford), to the east (Hounslow and Hatton), and to the south (East Bedfont and Stanwell). To the west the M25 motorway separates the airport from Colnbrook in Berkshire.


[edit] History

The location of Heathrow airport within Greater London

Heathrow started life in the 1930s as the Great Western Aerodrome. Privately owned by Fairey Aviation, it was used primarily for testing. The land was originally acquired from the vicar of Harmondsworth. The airport was named after the hamlet Heath Row, which was demolished to make way for the airport and was located approximately where Terminal 3 now stands.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> At first, it had no commercial traffic and Croydon Airport was the main airport for London.

In 1944 Heathrow came under the control of the Ministry of Air. Harold Balfour (later Lord Balfour), then Under-Secretary of State for Air (1938-1944), wrote in his 1973 autobiography Wings over Westminster, that he deliberately deceived the government committee that a requisition was necessary in order that Heathrow could be used as a base for long-range transport aircraft in support of the war with Japan. In fact, Balfour wrote, he always intended the site to be used for civil aviation and used a wartime emergency requisition order to avoid a lengthy and costly public inquiry. The Royal Air Force never made use of the airport and control was transferred to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on 1 January 1946 - the first civil flight that day being to Buenos Aires, via Lisbon for refuelling.

The airport opened fully for civilian use on 31 May 1946 and by 1947 Heathrow had three runways, with three more under construction. These older runways, built for piston-engined planes, were short, and criss-crossed to allow for all wind conditions. The first concrete slab of the first modern runway was ceremonially placed by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. She also opened the first terminal building, the Europa Building (later Terminal 2), in 1955. Shortly afterwards the Oceanic Terminal (later Terminal 3) became operational. At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service from central London and gardens on the roof of the terminal building.<ref>British Pathe news reel 31.10 dated June 1955 (</ref> Terminal 1 was opened in 1968, completing the cluster of buildings at the centre of the Heathrow site. The location of the original terminals in the centre of the site has since become a constraint to expansion. This decision reflected an early assumption that airline passengers would not require extensive car parking, as air travel was then only affordable to the wealthy - who would, of course, be chauffeur-driven.

In 1977, the London Underground was extended to Heathrow - connecting the airport with Central London in just under an hour via the Piccadilly Line. The loop to Terminal 4 was inactive for some months in 2006 during the construction of an extension to Terminal 5.

Terminal 4 was built away from the three older terminals, to the south of the southern runway. It opened in 1986 and became the home for then newly-privatised British Airways. In 1987, the British Government privatised the British Airports Authority (now just "BAA plc"), which controls seven of Britain's airports, including Heathrow.
A British Airways Boeing 777-200 is towed to maintenance hangars. The aircraft is crossing a public road (closed permanently in 2006).

[edit] Terrorism

After the latest attempted attacks at the airport, the security levels were risen to the hightest level and passengers are unallowed to take any liquids through security with them as the latest attacks saw terrorists attempted to use liquid bombs. Passengers were even asked to test baby milk to cut out any attempt to carry a dangerous substance on board an aircraft. Liquids bought in the departure lounge after security may be brought aboard depending on the airline. This includes cigarette lighters, to the surprise of many which have already had similar items confiscated.

[edit] Security

Routine policing of the airport is performed by the aviation security unit of the Metropolitan Police, however the army, including armoured vehicles of the Household Cavalry, has occasionally been deployed to the airport during periods of heightened security.

On 26 November 1983 the Brinks Mat robbery occurred, when 6,800 gold bars worth nearly £26 million were taken from the Brink's Mat vault near Heathrow. Only a fraction of the gold was ever recovered and only two men were convicted of the crime.

In March 2002, thieves stole US $3 million that had arrived on a South African Airways flight.

Scotland Yard's Flying Squad foiled an attempt by seven men to steal £40 million in gold bullion and a similar quantity of cash from the Swissport warehouse at Heathrow on 17 May 2004.

So notorious is Heathrow's reputation it is sometimes referred to as 'Thiefrow'.<ref>France, Anthony. "Exposed: Scandal Of Heathrow Security", Evening Standard, 2001-04-26. Retrieved on 2006-08-13.</ref>

[edit] Air disasters with connections to Heathrow

[edit] Heathrow today
Tarom Boeing 737 taxies alongside a United Airlines Boeing 777
Queue of aircraft for take-off including jets from Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Air India, and bmi

Heathrow now has four passenger terminals (numbered 1 to 4) and a cargo terminal. Permission for a fifth passenger terminal (Terminal 5) was granted in November 2001, and construction is now well under way. It is expected to open in 2008, with construction of all satellite buildings completed in 2011.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

When originally constructed, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles, with the passenger terminal in the centre. With growth in the required length for runways, Heathrow now has just two parallel runways running east-west. Runway 23, a short runway for use in strong South-Westerly winds, was recently decommissioned and now forms part of taxiway A. The Department for Transport has issued a 'consultation document' in which one option is the construction of a third parallel east-west runway for frequent use, involving the demolition of local residential areas.

Overnight flights into Heathrow are currently restricted by government order, with preference for quieter airliners, but could be eliminated entirely if the government loses its appeal against a recent judgement by the European Court of Human Rights.

The airport has been owned and operated by BAA since before its privatisation in 1987. In June 2006, BAA was taken over by the Ferrovial Group (Grupo Ferrovial) a Spanish company involved in construction, infrastructure, real estate and related services. The group still operates under the BAA name. In order to prevent monopoly profits, the amount BAA is allowed to charge airlines to land aeroplanes at Heathrow is heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority. Until 1 April 2003, the annual increase of the cost of landing per passenger was capped at inflation minus 3%. This has meant that landing charges have been falling in absolute terms. The average landing cost per passenger in April 2003 was £6.13, similar to landing charges at Gatwick and Stansted. In order to reflect the fact that Heathrow, as an international hub, is more popular with passengers and airlines, the CAA agreed that BAA will be allowed to increase landing charges at Heathrow by inflation plus 6.5% per year for the next five years. When Terminal 5 opens in 2008, landing charges are expected to be £8.23 per passenger. Landing fee restrictions at Gatwick and Stansted will remain tighter.

Whilst the cost of a landing slot is determined by the CAA and BAA, the allocation of landing slots at Heathrow to airlines is carried out by Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL). ACL is an independent non-profit organisation whose slot allocation programme is governed by British and European law and IATA Worldwide Scheduling Guidelines. ACL is funded by ten British airlines, tourism operators and BAA, which pay the ACL a fee for providing scheduling information. The apparent conflict between the need to provide an independent slot allocation service and serving the interests of the funding airlines is waved away by ACL, who state that:

No member airline receives direct benefit, in terms of preferential treatment in slot allocation decisions made by ACL. All airlines are treated the same, in accordance with UK and European Slot Regulations which ensure that decisions made by ACL are made in a 'neutral, transparent and non-discriminatory' way. Members believe that it is reasonable for them to contribute to the cost of slot allocation in the UK, since the cost of the coordination task in other countries is borne by their Governments or national carriers. Contributing to the cost of ACL avoids the need for Government intervention of control of slot allocation and ensures that all the airlines receive a high quality coordination service. Any airline may apply to join ACL, and the Company is pro-active in seeking to expand its membership base.
— Airport Coordination Limited, <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

There have been calls for the slot allocation process to be made a free market at Heathrow and elsewhere. (See e.g. Centre for Land Policy Studies [1]). See also [2] for an account of the economics of the European Airline market.

In addition, air traffic between Heathrow and the United States is strictly governed by the countries' bilateral Bermuda II treaty. The treaty originally allowed only British Airways, Pan Am, and TWA to fly from Heathrow to the US. In 1991 PAA and TWA sold their rights to United Airlines and American Airlines respectively, and Virgin Atlantic Airways was added to the list of airlines allowed to operate on these routes. In 2002, American Airlines and British Airways announced plans to coordinate the scheduling of their trans-Atlantic routes but plans were dropped after the United States Department of Transportation made approval conditional on the granting of further access slots to Heathrow to other US airlines. AA and BA considered the slots too valuable and dropped the plans. [3] The Bermuda bilateral agreement conflicts with the Right of Establishment of the United Kingdom in terms of its membership in the EU, and as a consequence the UK was ordered to drop the agreement in 2004.

Construction is complete on the extension of pier 6 at Terminal 3. The pier has been designed specifically for efficient operation of the new Airbus A380; the first A380s are due to start arriving at Heathrow during 2007. The first A380 test flight into Heathrow took place on 18 May 2006. [4]

Heathrow was voted the world's worst airport, in a survey conducted by TripAdvisor with over 4,000 participants. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Busiest airport claims

Heathrow is the world's third-busiest airport by total passenger traffic, after Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago-O'Hare in the United States. However, Heathrow has the highest number of international passengers, making it the world's busiest international airport, and is claimed by its operator BAA to be "the hub of the aviation world". On completion of Terminal 5 in 2007, it will be the world's busiest airport.[5]

In 2004 Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe in terms of total passenger traffic (31.5% more passengers than at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport or Frankfurt International Airport), but was third behind Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt in terms of plane movements (9.5% fewer planes than at Charles de Gaulle, and 0.3% fewer planes than at Frankfurt). The airport was also third in terms of cargo traffic (24.8% less cargo than at Charles de Gaulle and 23.2% less than at Frankfurt).

In 2005 total passenger numbers rose 0.9% to 67.7 million. [6] This low rate of growth reflects the fact that in advance of the completion of Terminal 5, growth in the London flights market is necessarily concentrated at London's other airports.

[edit] Heathrow in culture

[edit] Music

The airport is referenced in the song "Sleeping with the Light On" by the English pop band Busted in the line "Got on an airplane, from London Heathrow; It seems such a shame, yea."

[edit] Film

The airport is a regular backdrop for films. In 2003 it was particularly visible in the Richard Curtis romantic comedy Love Actually. A secret camera installed at the arrivals hall at Terminal 4 captured the reunions between people coming off planes and those meeting them. Snippets of some of the more expressive greetings were played at the beginning and end of the movie.

Heathrow was also the location for the final scenes of the 1988 film A Fish Called Wanda, featuring (among others) former Monty Python stars John Cleese and Michael Palin.

A more surprising appearance of the airport was in the 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove. General Ripper's office at the fictitious Burpelson Air Force Base is decorated with a large aerial photo, presumably of the base; but in fact this is Heathrow Airport, in its old 6-runway configuration.

Other films shot at Heathrow Airport include Wimbledon (terminal one), The Hunt for Red October and Closer (Renaissance Hotel). Heathrow was even animated in the 1980 Peanuts movie, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!). The airport is also a factor in the Gurinder Chadha's 2003 movie Bend It Like Beckham. In several scenes, aircraft can be seen landing at the airport.

[edit] Television

An earlier Python connection occurs in the song "I'm So Worried" by Terry Jones, on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album, which includes the refrain "I'm so worried about the baggage retrieval system they've got at Heathrow."

Heathrow is also the setting for the BBC programme Airport. Its Animal Reception Centre is also the set of the Documentary series Animal Airport.

In the 1982 Doctor Who story Time-Flight took place at Heathrow Airport. The Doctor also accidentally turned up at Heathrow in the year 1666 in the story The Visitation.

The 2003 BBC Docu-Drama The Day Britain Stopped focused on how a poorly maintained transport infrastructure could cause major disaster, culminating in a major aircraft collision at Heathrow.

[edit] Heathrow's landing patterns

Main article: Bovingdon stack
Further information: Cranford protocol

Aircraft destined for Heathrow usually enter its airspace via one of the four main reporting points: Bovingdon (BNN) over Hertfordshire, Lambourne (LAM) over Essex, Biggin Hill (BIG) over Bromley and Ockham (OCK) over Surrey. When the airport is busy, aircraft will orbit in the associated holds. These reporting points/holds lie respectively to the north-west, north-east, south-east and south-west of the London conurbation.

Heathrow Approach Control (based a mile north of the airport at the London Terminal Control Centre in West Drayton) then guides the aircraft to their final approach. Much skill is required by controllers to merge aircraft from the four holds into one single stream of traffic, sometimes as close as 2.5 nautical miles apart. Once an aircraft is established on its final approach, control is handed over to Heathrow Tower.

To reduce noise nuisance to people beneath the final apporach and departure routes, the role of each runway is normally alternated at a set time each day when the wind is from the west. Conventionally at Heathrow this runway alternation time is 1500 local time. When easterly landings are in progress there is no alternation; 09L remains the landing runway and 09R the departure runway. Sometimes landings are allowed on the nominated departure runway, to help reduce airborne delays and to position landing aircraft closer to their terminal, thus reducing taxi times.

[edit] Access and parking

Public transport links include:

Image:Heathrow Express 332 008.jpg
Heathrow Express train

Heathrow is accessible via the nearby M4 motorway and A4 road (terminals 1–3), the M25 motorway (terminals 4 and 5), and the A30 road (terminal 4). There are drop off and pick up areas at all terminals and short and long stay multi-storey car parks. Additionally, there are car parks not run by BAA lying just outside the airport claiming to offer cheaper parking. Very often, these are connected to the terminals by shuttle buses.

Four parallel tunnels under one of the runways connect the M4 motorway and the A4 road to Terminals 1–3. The two larger tunnels are each 2 lanes wide and are used for motorised traffic. The two smaller tunnels were originally reserved for pedestrians and bicycles; to increase traffic capacity the cycle lanes have been modified to each take a single lane of cars, although bicycles still have priority over cars.

Other tunnels not open to the general public connect various parts of the Airport. The Heathrow Cargo Tunnel connects Terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Terminal 4 as well as to Perimeter Road. The recently completed Heathrow Airside Road Tunnel connect Terminals 1, 2 and 3 to the site of Terminal 5 and provides access to future T5 gates that are currently in use as remote stands.

There are (mainly off-road) bicycle routes almost to the terminals. Free bicycle parking places are available in car parks 1 and 1A, though use of the left-luggage services may be more secure. Free specialist maps showing cycle routes are published by Transport for London - 'London Cycle Guide' areas 8 and 13 cover Heathrow. One coach on each Heathrow Connect train has an area reserved for wheelchairs and bicycles (wheelchairs have priority).

[edit] Future of Heathrow

[edit] Construction of Terminal 5

Terminal 5 under construction in July 2006.

On 20 November 2001 transport minister Stephen Byers announced the British Government's decision to grant planning permission for the building of a fifth passenger terminal at Heathrow. The new terminal is being constructed within the current boundary of the airport, on its western side. It is due to open on 30 March 2008 at 04:00GMT and is expected to be fully operational by 2015. When it is completed Heathrow will be able to handle up to 90 million passengers a year, up from its current limit of 68 million.

The granting of planning permission followed the longest public inquiry in British history, lasting nearly four years. BAA had made an initial application in 1993. The key factors considered by the inquiry panel were:

BAA's application was vociferously supported by airlines flying out of Heathrow, in particular British Airways and bmi. Wider interest business groups and trade unions supporting the proposal included the British Chamber of Commerce, the London Tourist Board, the Confederation of British Industry and the Transport and General Workers' Union. Supporters claim that further expansion of the airport is necessary to maintain Heathrow's current position as the pre-eminent hub in European aviation, ahead of other large airports such as Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle, and Frankfurt.

Those opposing the plan cite environmental problems such as increased traffic congestion, air pollution and noise. They included Friends of the Earth and 11 London borough councils, including the London Borough of Hillingdon in which Heathrow is situated.

The transport network around Heathrow is being extended to cope with increased number of passengers. A spur motorway will run from the M25 between junctions 14 and 15 to the new terminal. New branches of both the Heathrow Express and the Underground's Piccadilly Line will serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 station, which will also have space for a third pair of tracks for future additional services.

When T5 is handed over to BAA in March 2008 over £4bn will have been spent and 20,000 people will have worked on the project. Work will continue on the second of two satellite terminals or concourses, which will be linked to the main terminal by an underground people mover. In 2005, T5 was the largest construction project in Europe — expenditure peaked in mid 2005 at £12m per week. None of the cost comes from the taxpayer. As well as the terminal buildings there are other developments under construction as part of the T5 project, including a multi-storey car park, the world's first Personal rapid transit system (connecting the car park to the terminal), a hotel, an energy centre, road tunnels, tunnelled extensions to the Piccadilly Line and Heathrow Express and a spur from the M25.

The terminal buildings have been designed by Richard Rogers Partnership and the lead project architects are Pascall + Watson, who specialise in airports and transport facilities. The four storeys of the main terminal building (Concourse A) are covered by a single-span undulating steel frame roof, stretching 90 m from east to west. Departing passengers will enter Departures level (on the 3rd floor) after taking one of the lifts or escalators from the interchange plaza. Upon entering the Departures concourse, passengers will see views across the Heathrow area and be in a space that is unobstructed to the rising roof above. After check-in and ticket presentation, the airside lounges will provide views across the tarmac and the runways beyond. There will be an abundance of retail outlets.

Image:Heathrow Visitor Centre.jpg
The airport visitor centre

Currently, it is the largest aviation project in Europe and is scheduled for completion on 30 March 2008. It will cater for 30 million passengers and will be used by British Airways, which will transfer its entire operation there. In addition to the main terminal building, Terminal 5 also consists of two satellite buildings (the second of which will be completed by 2011), 60 aircraft stands, a new air traffic control tower, a 4,000 space multi-storey car park, the creation of a new spur road from the M25, a 600-bed hotel, the diversion of two rivers and over 13 km of bored tunnel, including extensions to the Heathrow Express and Piccadilly Line services.

T5 will have dedicated aircraft stands for the new Airbus A380 in the first satellite terminal (Concourse B), which opens alongside the main terminal.

[edit] Third Runway

The major airlines at Heathrow, in particular British Airways, have long advocated a third full-length runway at Heathrow. Those opposing Terminal 5 similarly oppose a third runway. On 14 December 2003 Transport Secretary Alistair Darling released a white paper (available from on the future of aviation in the UK. A key proposal of the paper was that a third runway would be built at Heathrow by 2020, provided that its owners meet targets on environmental issues such as aircraft noise, traffic congestion and pollution. It could involve the loss of Sipson and much of Harmondsworth, including the church and tithe barn.

A sixth terminal would be likely to accompany the new runway. The total capacity would be increased to 115 million passengers per year. At this stage firm locations and timetables have not been determined.

[edit] New Heathrow East Terminal

BAA announced in November 2005 that Terminal 2 will be closed down when the Terminal 5 opens to allow the Heathrow East scheme to be completed. This will see Terminal 2 and the Queen's Building offices be replaced by a new terminal capable of handling 30 million people. Work is planned to start in 2008 and to be completed by 2012, in time for the London Olympics. BAA is still waiting for planning permission for this project, but they have confirmed that Terminal 2 will close whatever the future for the Heathrow East project (see [7]).

[edit] Terminal 6

A new terminal is proposed to the north of Heathrow to accompany a third runway. It is believed current proposals would require the demolition of around 700 homes.[8]

[edit] Thames Estuary Airport

Although a third runway appears to be a strong possibility, it has been suggested by many MPs and residents of the surrounding areas of Heathrow, to build a completely new airport on a man-made island in the Thames Estuary, similar to projects in Japan and the earlier possible location for London's third airport at Foulness. Even though this would not be in London, it means that noise pollution would be greatly reduced. It also means there would be a possibility of connecting the new airport with other parts of Europe by rail, eliminating the need for environmentally damaging short-haul flights. If permission for the new airport goes ahead, Heathrow would be gradually retired over a course of 20 years, all terminals, including the under-construction Terminal 5 project, and used to build up to 30,000 new homes. [9]

The plans have come under criticism from environmentalists, who say building a man made island here would force local wildlife to move elsewhere, as well as proponents of Heathrow, who note the immense amount of infrastructure already in place at the airport. In addition, Heathrow's location to the west of London is far more accessible to the vast majority of the population living outside of London.

[edit] Re-organised terminal formats

When Terminal 5 opens in 2008, Heathrow's terminal system will undergo major changes in order to simplify and streamline the transfer process for passengers.

The planned format from 2008 <ref>BAA Heathrow East expansion proposals</ref> is:

[edit] Terminals and destinations

Departure area in Terminal 1 (Domestic bmi lounge)

[edit] Terminal 1

[edit] Terminal 2

Image:Boeing 777-AA.jpg
American Airlines Boeing 777 landing at Heathrow

[edit] Terminal 3

Image:LHR Terminal 3 waiting area.jpg
Terminal 3 has a large centralised waiting/shopping area
Departures area in Terminal 3
Amusements arcade in Terminal 3 Departures

[edit] Terminal 4

Terminal 4 arrivals

[edit] New Routes Where no Terminal has Been Specified

[edit] References

[edit] Notes

<references />

[edit] External links

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