Heathrow Airport

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Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Logo 2013.svg
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Airport typePublic
Owner Heathrow Airport Holdings
OperatorHeathrow Airport Limited
Serves London, England
LocationNear Longford in Hillingdon borough, London
Hub for British Airways
Focus city for Virgin Atlantic
Elevation  AMSL 83 ft / 25 m
Coordinates 51°28′39″N000°27′41″W / 51.47750°N 0.46139°W / 51.47750; -0.46139 Coordinates: 51°28′39″N000°27′41″W / 51.47750°N 0.46139°W / 51.47750; -0.46139
Website www.heathrow.com & Official Parking Booking Website
Greater London UK location map 2.svg
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Direction LengthSurface
09L/27R3,90212,802Grooved asphalt
09R/27L3,66012,008Grooved asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passenger change 17-18Increase2.svg2.7%
Aircraft movements480,339
Movements change 17-18Increase2.svg0.9%
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority [1]

Heathrow Airport, also known as London Heathrow [2] ( IATA : LHR, ICAO : EGLL), is a major international airport in London, United Kingdom. Heathrow is the second busiest airport in the world (after Dubai International Airport) by international passenger traffic, as well as the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and the seventh busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. It is one of six international airports serving Greater London. In 2018, it handled a record 80.1 million passengers, a 2.7% increase from 2017 as well as 480,339 aircraft movements, an increase of 4,715 from 2017. [1]

An IATA airport code, also known as an IATA location identifier, IATA station code or simply a location identifier, is a three-letter code designating many airports and metropolitan areas around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The characters prominently displayed on baggage tags attached at airport check-in desks are an example of a way these codes are used.

ICAO airport code four-letter code designating many airports around the world

The ICAOairport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators, are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.

International airport airport serving international destinations

An international airport is an airport with customs and border control facilities enabling passengers to travel between countries. International airports are usually larger than domestic airports and often feature longer runways and facilities to accommodate the heavier aircraft commonly used for international and intercontinental travel. International airports often also host domestic flights.


Heathrow lies 14 mile s (23 km) west of Central London, [2] and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers 12.27 square kilometres (4.74 sq mi). The airport is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which itself is owned by FGP TopCo Limited, an international consortium led by Ferrovial that also includes Qatar Holding LLC, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, GIC Private Limited, Alinda Capital Partners, China Investment Corporation and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). [3] London Heathrow is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic.

Mile Unit of length

The mile is an English unit of length of linear measure equal to 5,280 feet, or 1,760 yards, and standardised as exactly 1,609.344 metres by international agreement in 1959.

Central London Innermost part of London, England

Central London is the innermost part of London, in the United Kingdom, spanning several boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been used to define the scope of central London for statistics, urban planning and local government. Its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally, nationally and internationally significant organisations and facilities.

Runway Area of surface used by aircraft to takeoff from and land on

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft". Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface.

In September 2012, the Government of the United Kingdom established the Airports Commission, an independent commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies to examine various options for increasing capacity at UK airports. In July 2015, the commission backed a third runway at Heathrow, which the government approved in October 2016. [4] [5] [6]

Government of the United Kingdom central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is also commonly referred to as simply the UK Government or the British Government.

The Airports Commission was an independent commission established in September 2012 by the Government of the United Kingdom to consider how the UK can "maintain its status as an international hub for aviation and immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next 5 years". Alongside the proposal to build HS2, the question of how to make best use of and expand airport capacity has become the UK's most significant infrastructure issue over the last few years.

Howard Davies (economist) British economist, businessman

Sir Howard John Davies is the current Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland and the former Director of the London School of Economics. He also teaches courses on the regulation of financial markets and central banking at the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po.


A Qantas Boeing 747-400 on approach to London Heathrow runway 27L Qantas b747 over houses arp.jpg
A Qantas Boeing 747-400 on approach to London Heathrow runway 27L

Heathrow is 14 mi (23 km) west of central London, [2] near the south end of the London Borough of Hillingdon on a parcel of land that is designated part of the Metropolitan Green Belt. The airport is surrounded by the villages of Harlington, Harmondsworth, Longford and Cranford to the north and by Hounslow and Hatton to the east. To the south lie Bedfont and Stanwell while to the west Heathrow is separated from Slough in Berkshire by the M25 motorway. Heathrow falls entirely under the Twickenham postcode area, with the postcode TW6. The airport is located within the Hayes and Harlington parliamentary constituency.

London Borough of Hillingdon London borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Hillingdon is a large borough located in Greater London, England which had a population of 273,936 according to the 2011 Census. It was formed from the districts of Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip-Northwood, Uxbridge, and Yiewsley and West Drayton in the county of Middlesex. Today, Hillingdon is home to Heathrow Airport and Brunel University, and is the second largest of the 32 London boroughs by area.

Metropolitan Green Belt

The Metropolitan Green Belt is a statutory green belt around London, England. It comprises parts of Greater London and the six adjoining "home counties", parts of two of the three districts of the small county of Bedfordshire and less than 0.1% of one of the thirteen local government areas of the coastal county of Sussex. As of 2017/18, Government statistics show the planning designation covered 513,860 hectares of land.

Harlington, London human settlement in United Kingdom

Harlington is a district of the London Borough of Hillingdon and one of five historic parishes partly developed into London Heathrow Airport and associated businesses, the one most heavily developed being Harmondsworth. It is centred 13.6 miles (21.9 km) west of Charing Cross. The district adjoins Hayes to the north and shares a railway station with the larger district, which is its post town, on the Great Western Main Line. It is in the south-west corner of the historic county of Middlesex.

As the airport is located west of London and as its runways run east–west, an airliner's landing approach is usually directly over the conurbation of London when the wind is from the west, which is most of the time.

Along with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend and London City, Heathrow is one of six airports with scheduled services serving the London area.

Gatwick Airport international airport in West Sussex, England

Gatwick Airport, also known as London Gatwick, is a major international airport near Crawley in West Sussex, southeast England, 29.5 miles (47.5 km) south of Central London. It is the second-busiest airport by total passenger traffic in the United Kingdom, after Heathrow Airport. Gatwick is the eighth-busiest airport in Europe. Until 2017, it was the busiest single-use runway airport in the world, covering a total area of 674 hectares.

London Stansted Airport passenger airport at Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex

London Stansted Airport is an international airport located at Stansted Mountfitchet in the district of Uttlesford in Essex, 42 mi (68 km) northeast of Central London.

Luton Airport international airport in Bedfordshire, England

London Luton Airport, previously called Luton International Airport, is an international airport located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Luton town centre in the county of Bedfordshire, England, and is 28 miles (45 km) north of Central London.


Aerial photo of Heathrow Airport from the 1950s, before the terminals were built Aerial photograph of Heathrow Airport, 1955.jpg
Aerial photo of Heathrow Airport from the 1950s, before the terminals were built

Heathrow Airport originated in 1929 as a small airfield (Great West Aerodrome) on land south-east of the hamlet of Heathrow from which the airport takes its name. At that time there were farms, market gardens and orchards there: there was a "Heathrow Farm" about where the old Terminal 1 was and where Terminal 2 is, a "Heathrow Hall" and a "Heathrow House". This hamlet was largely along a country lane (Heathrow Road) which ran roughly along the east and south edges of the present central terminals area.

Great West Aerodrome Grass airfield, operational 1930 - 1944 on the site of the current Heathrow Airport

The Great West Aerodrome, also known as Harmondsworth Aerodrome or Heathrow Aerodrome, was a grass airfield, operational between 1930 and 1944. It was on the southeast edge of the hamlet of Heathrow, in the parish of Harmondsworth. The Fairey Aviation Company owned and operated it, for assembly and flight testing of Fairey-manufactured aircraft. The area was to later be the site of London Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow (hamlet) Former hamlet in Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, site of Heathrow Airport

Heathrow or Heath Row was a wayside hamlet along a minor country lane called Heathrow Road in the ancient parish of Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, on the outskirts of what is now Greater London. Its buildings and all associated holdings were demolished, along with almost all of the often grouped locality of The Magpies in 1944 for the construction of London Heathrow Airport.

Market garden relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops

A market garden is the relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops, frequently sold directly to consumers and restaurants. The diversity of crops grown on a small area of land, typically, from under one acre to a few acres, or sometimes in greenhouses distinguishes it from other types of farming. Such a farm on a larger scale is sometimes called a truck farm.

Development of the whole Heathrow area as a very much larger airport began in 1944: it was stated to be for long-distance military aircraft bound for the Far East. But by the time the airfield was nearing completion, World War II had ended. The government continued to develop the airport as a civil airport. The airport was opened on 25 March 1946 as London Airport and was renamed Heathrow Airport in 1966. The masterplan[ clarification needed ] for the airport was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, who designed the original terminals and central area buildings, including the original control tower and the multi-faith chapel of St George's.



Central waiting area in Terminal 5 TerminalFiveAirportHeathrowAugust2012.JPG
Central waiting area in Terminal 5
Concorde G-BOAB in storage at Heathrow Concorde g-boab in storage arp.jpg
Concorde G-BOAB in storage at Heathrow
Four aircraft on the approach to Heathrow runway 09L Four aircraft on the approach to LHR runway 09L 10Sep2015 arp.jpg
Four aircraft on the approach to Heathrow runway 09L
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Heathrow's control tower
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British Airways aircraft at Terminal 5C

Heathrow Airport is used by over 80 airlines flying to 185 destinations in 84 countries. The airport is the primary hub of British Airways and is a base for Virgin Atlantic. It has four passenger terminals (numbered 2 to 5) and a cargo terminal. Of Heathrow's 78 million passengers in 2017, 94% were international travellers; the remaining 6% were bound for (or arriving from) places in the UK. [8] The busiest single destination in passenger numbers is New York, with over 3 million passengers flying between Heathrow and JFK Airport in 2013. [9]

In the 1950s, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles in the shape of a hexagram with the permanent passenger terminal in the middle and the older terminal along the north edge of the field; two of its runways would always be within 30° of the wind direction. As the required length for runways has grown, Heathrow now has only two parallel runways running east–west. These are extended versions of the two east–west runways from the original hexagram. From the air, almost all of the original runways can still be seen, incorporated into the present system of taxiways. North of the northern runway and the former taxiway and aprons, now the site of extensive car parks, is the entrance to the access tunnel and the site of Heathrow's unofficial "gate guardian". For many years the home of a 40% scale model of a British Airways Concorde, G-CONC, the site has been occupied by a model of an Emirates Airbus A380 since 2008. [10]

Heathrow Airport has Anglican, Catholic, Free Church, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh chaplains. There is a multi-faith prayer room and counselling room in each terminal, in addition to St. George's Interdenominational Chapel in an underground vault adjacent to the old control tower, where Christian services take place. The chaplains organise and lead prayers at certain times in the prayer room. [11]

The airport has its own resident press corps, consisting of six photographers and one TV crew, serving all the major newspapers and television stations around the world. [12]

Most of Heathrow's internal roads are initial letter coded by area: N in the north (e.g. Newall Road), E in the east (e.g. Elmdon Road), S in the south (e.g. Stratford Road), W in the west (e.g. Walrus Road), C in the centre (e.g. Camborne Road).

Flight movements

Aircraft destined for Heathrow are usually routed to one of four holding points.

Air traffic controllers at Heathrow Approach Control (based in Swanwick, Hampshire) then guide the aircraft to their final approach, merging aircraft from the four holds into a single stream of traffic, sometimes as close as 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) apart. Considerable use is made of continuous descent approach techniques to minimize the environmental effects of incoming aircraft, particularly at night. [13] Once an aircraft is established on its final approach, control is handed over to Heathrow Tower.

When runway alternation was introduced, aircraft generated significantly more noise on departure than when landing, so a preference for westerly operations during daylight was introduced, which continues to this day. [14] In this mode, aircraft depart towards the west and approach from the east over London, thereby minimizing the impact of noise on the most densely populated areas. Heathrow's two runways generally operate in segregated mode, whereby arriving aircraft are allocated to one runway and departing aircraft to the other. To further reduce noise nuisance to people beneath the approach and departure routes, the use of runways 27R and 27L is swapped at 15:00 each day if the wind is from the west. When landings are easterly there is no alternation; 09L remains the landing runway and 09R the departure runway due to the legacy of the now rescinded Cranford Agreement, pending taxiway works to allow the roles to be reversed. Occasionally, landings are allowed on the nominated departure runway, to help reduce airborne delays and to position landing aircraft closer to their terminal, reducing taxi times.

Night-time flights at Heathrow are subject to restrictions. Between 23:00 and 04:00, the noisiest aircraft (rated QC/8 and QC/16) cannot be scheduled for operation. In addition, during the night quota period (23:30–06:00) there are four limits:

A trial of "noise relief zones" ran from December 2012 to March 2013, which concentrated approach flight paths into defined areas compared with the existing paths which were spread out. The zones used alternated weekly, meaning residents in the "no-fly" areas received respite from aircraft noise for set periods. [16] However, it was concluded that some residents in other areas experienced a significant disbenefit as a result of the trial and that it should therefore not be taken forward in its current form. Heathrow received more than 25,000 noise complaints in just three months over the summer of 2016, but around half were made by the same ten people. [17]


Until it was required to sell Gatwick and Stansted Airports, Heathrow Airport Holdings held a dominant position in the London aviation market, and has been heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as to how much it can charge airlines to land. The annual increase in landing charge per passenger was capped at inflation minus 3% until 1 April 2003. From 2003 to 2007 charges increased by inflation plus 6.5% per year, taking the fee to £9.28 per passenger in 2007. In March 2008, the CAA announced that the charge would be allowed to increase by 23.5% to £12.80 from 1 April 2008 and by inflation plus 7.5% for each of the following four years. [18] In April 2013, the CAA announced a proposal for Heathrow to charge fees calculated by inflation minus 1.3%, continuing until 2019. [19] Whilst the cost of landing at Heathrow is determined by the CAA and Heathrow Airport Holdings, the allocation of landing slots to airlines is carried out by Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL). [20]

Until 2008, air traffic between Heathrow and the United States was 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, while Virgin Atlantic was added to the list of airlines allowed to operate on these routes. The Bermuda bilateral agreement conflicted with the Right of Establishment of the United Kingdom in relation to its EU membership, and as a consequence the UK was ordered to drop the agreement in 2004. A new "open skies" agreement was signed by the United States and the European Union on 30 April 2007 and came into effect on 30 March 2008. Shortly afterwards, additional US airlines, including Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways and Delta Air Lines started services to Heathrow.

The airport has been criticised in recent years for overcrowding and delays; [21] according to Heathrow Airport Holdings, Heathrow's facilities were originally designed to accommodate 55 million passengers annually. The number of passengers using the airport reached a record 70 million in 2012. [22] In 2007 the airport was voted the world's least favourite, alongside Chicago O'Hare, in a TripAdvisor survey. [23] However, the opening of Terminal 5 in 2008 has relieved some pressure on terminal facilities, increasing the airport's terminal capacity to 90 million passengers per year. A tie-up is also in place with McLaren Applied Technologies to optimize the general procedure, reducing delays and pollution. [24]

With only two runways, operating at over 98% of their capacity, Heathrow has little room for more flights, although the increasing use of larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 will allow some increase in passenger numbers. It is difficult for existing airlines to obtain landing slots to enable them to increase their services from the airport, or for new airlines to start operations. [25] To increase the number of flights, Heathrow Airport Holdings has proposed using the existing two runways in 'mixed mode' whereby aircraft would be allowed to take off and land on the same runway. This would increase the airport's capacity from its current 480,000 movements per year to as many as 550,000 according to British Airways CEO Willie Walsh. [26] Heathrow Airport Holdings has also proposed building a third runway to the north of the airport, which would significantly increase traffic capacity (see Future expansion below). [27]


Policing of the airport is the responsibility of the aviation security unit of the Metropolitan Police, although the army, including armoured vehicles of the Household Cavalry, has occasionally been deployed at the airport during periods of heightened security.

Full body scanners are now used at the airport, and passengers who object to their use after being selected are required to submit to a hand search in a private room. [28] The scanners display passengers' bodies as a cartoon-style figure, with indicators showing where concealed items may be. [28] The new imagery was introduced initially as a trial in September 2011 following complaints over privacy. [29]


Current terminals

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 central departures area Heathrow T2 central overview.jpg
Terminal 2 central departures area

The airport's newest terminal, officially known as the Queen's Terminal, was opened on 4 June 2014. [30] [31] Designed by Spanish architect Luis Vidal, it was built on the site that had been occupied by the original Terminal 2 and the Queens Building. [32] [33] The main complex was completed in November 2013 and underwent six months of testing before opening to passengers. It includes a satellite pier (T2B), a 1,340-space car park, an energy center[ clarification needed ] and a cooling station to generate chilled water. There are 52 shops and 17 bars and restaurants. [34]

Terminal 2 is used by all Star Alliance members which fly from Heathrow (consolidating the airlines under Star Alliance's co-location policy "Move Under One Roof"). Aer Lingus, Eurowings, Flybe and Icelandair also operate from the terminal. Tianjin Airlines is a possible new member at Terminal 2. The airlines moved from their original locations over a six-month period, with only 10% of flights operating from there in the first six weeks (United Airlines' transatlantic flights) to avoid the opening problems seen at Terminal 5. On 4 June 2014, United Airlines became the first airline to move into Terminal 2 from Terminals 1 and 4 followed by All Nippon Airways, Air Canada and Air China from Terminal 3. Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, South African Airways, and TAP Air Portugal were the last airlines to move in on 22 October 2014 from Terminal 1. [35] Development will continue at the terminal to increase capacity in preparation for the closure of Terminal 3 in 2019. [36]

The original Terminal 2 opened as the Europa Building in 1955 and was the airport's oldest terminal. It had an area of 49,654 m2 (534,470 sq ft) and was designed to handle around 1.2 million passengers annually. In its final years it accommodated up to 8 million. A total of 316 million passengers passed through the terminal in its lifetime. The building was demolished in 2010, along with the Queens Building which had housed airline company offices. [37]

Terminal 3

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Terminal 3 bird's-eye view

Terminal 3 opened as the Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes for foreign carriers to the United States, Asia and other Far Eastern destinations. [38] At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service to Central London from the gardens on the roof of the terminal building. Renamed Terminal 3 in 1968, it was expanded in 1970 with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities added included the UK's first moving walkways. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed [39] to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Emirates and Qantas operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380.

Redevelopment of Terminal 3's forecourt by the addition of a new four-lane drop-off area and a large pedestrianised plaza, complete with canopy to the front of the terminal building, was completed in 2007. These improvements were intended to improve passengers' experience, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. [40] As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic was assigned its own dedicated check-in area, known as 'Zone A', which features a large sculpture and atrium.

As of 2013, Terminal 3 has an area of 98,962 m2 (1,065,220 sq ft) and in 2011 it handled 19.8 million passengers on 104,100 flights. [41] Terminal 3 is home to Oneworld members with the exception of Iberia, which uses Terminal 5, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways which use Terminal 4, SkyTeam members Delta Air Lines, Middle East Airlines, all new airlines and a few unaffiliated carriers.

Terminal 4

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Terminal 4 bird's-eye view

Opened in 1986, Terminal 4 is situated to the south of the southern runway next to the cargo terminal and is connected to Terminals 2 and 3 by the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel. The terminal has an area of 105,481 m2 (1,135,390 sq ft) and is now home to the SkyTeam alliance, with the exception of Delta Air Lines and Middle East Airlines, which use Terminal 3, Oneworld carriers Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways, and to most unaffiliated carriers. It has undergone a £200m upgrade to enable it to accommodate 45 airlines with an upgraded forecourt to reduce traffic congestion and improve security. Most flights that go to Terminal 4 are flights coming from Asia and North Africa, as well as a few flights to Europe. An extended check-in area with renovated piers and departure lounges and a new baggage system were installed, and two new stands were built to accommodate the Airbus A380; Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways operate regular A380 flights. [42] EL AL operates some regular Boeing 747 flights.

Terminal 5

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Terminal 5 bird's-eye view

Terminal 5 lies between the northern and southern runways at the western end of the Heathrow site and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008, [43] some 19 years after its inception. It opened to the public on 27 March 2008, and British Airways and its partner company Iberia have exclusive use of this terminal. The first passenger to enter Terminal 5 was a UK ex-pat from Kenya who passed through security at 04:30 on the day. He was presented with a boarding pass by the British Airways CEO Willie Walsh for the first departing flight, BA302 to Paris. During the two weeks after its opening, operations were disrupted by problems with the terminal's IT systems, coupled with insufficient testing and staff training, which caused over 500 flights to be cancelled. [44] Until March 2012, Terminal 5 was exclusively used by British Airways as its global hub; however, because of the merger, on 25 March Iberia's operations at Heathrow were moved to the terminal, making it the home of International Airlines Group. [45]

Built at a cost of £4.3 billion, the terminal consists of a four-story main terminal building (Concourse A) and two satellite buildings linked to the main terminal by an underground people mover transit system. The second satellite (Concourse C), includes dedicated aircraft stands for the Airbus A380. It became fully operational on 1 June 2011. Terminal 5 was voted Skytrax World's Best Airport Terminal 2014 in the Annual World Airport Awards. [46]

The main terminal building (Concourse A) has an area of 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft) while Concourse B covers 60,000 square metres (650,000 sq ft). [47] It has 60 aircraft stands and capacity for 30 million passengers annually as well as more than 100 shops and restaurants. [48] It is also home to British Airways’ Flagship lounge, the Concorde Room, alongside four further British Airways branded lounges. [49]

A further building, designated Concourse D and of similar size to Concourse C, may yet be built to the east of the existing site, providing up to another 16 stands. Following British Airways' merger with Iberia, this may become a priority since the combined business will require accommodation at Heathrow under one roof to maximise the cost savings envisaged under the deal. A proposal for Concourse D featured in Heathrow's most recent capital investment plan.

The transport network around the airport has been extended to cope with the increase in passenger numbers. A dedicated motorway spur links the terminal to the M25 (between junctions 14 and 15). The terminal has a 3,800 space multi-story car park. A more distant long-stay car park for business passengers is connected to the terminal by a personal rapid transit system, which became operational in the spring of 2011. [50] New branches of both the Heathrow Express and the Underground's Piccadilly line serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

Terminal assignments

As of January 2019, Heathrow's four passenger terminals are assigned as follows: [51]

TerminalAirlines and alliances
Terminal 2 Star Alliance and a few non aligned airlines
Terminal 3 Oneworld (except Iberia and most British Airways destinations), Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Middle East Airlines and several non-aligned airlines
Terminal 4 SkyTeam (except Delta Air Lines and Middle East Airlines), Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and most non-aligned airlines
Terminal 5British Airways (most destinations, except those at Terminal 3) and Iberia

Following the opening of Terminal 5 in March 2008, a complex programme of terminal moves was implemented. This saw many airlines move so as to be grouped in terminals by airline alliance as far as possible. [52]

Following the opening of Phase 1 of the new Terminal 2 in June 2014, all Star Alliance member airlines [53] (with the exception of new member Air India which moved in early 2017) along with Aer Lingus and Germanwings relocated to Terminal 2 in a phased process completed on 22 October 2014. Additionally, by 30 June 2015 all airlines left Terminal 1 in preparation for its demolition to make room for the construction of Phase 2 of Terminal 2. [54] Some other airlines made further minor moves at a later point, e.g. Air India moving from Terminal 4 to the other Star Alliance carriers in Terminal 2 [55] or Delta Air Lines merging all departures in Terminal 3 instead of a split between Terminals 3 and 4. [56]

Former terminals

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 opened in 1968 and was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in April 1969. [57] [58] Before Terminal 5 opened, Terminal 1 was the Heathrow base for British Airways' (BA) domestic and European network and for a few of its long haul routes. The acquisition of British Midland International (BMI) in 2012 by BA's owner International Airlines Group meant British Airways took over BMI's short-haul and medium-haul destinations from the terminal. [59] Terminal 1 was also the main base for most Star Alliance members, some Star Alliance members were also based at Terminal 3.

Terminal 1 closed at the end of June 2015. Its site is being used for an extension to Terminal 2, [60] which opened in June 2014. A number of newer boarding gates used by Terminal 1 had been built as part of the Terminal 2 development and are being retained as part of Terminal 2. [61] [62] The last tenants along with British Airways were El Al, Icelandair, the one who moved to Terminal 2 on 25 March 2015, and LATAM Brasil, the third one to move in to Terminal 3 on 27 May, 2015. British Airways was the last operator in Terminal 1. Two flights of this carrier, one departing to Hanover and one arriving from Baku, marked the terminal closure on 29 June 2015. British Airways operations have been relocated to Terminals 3 and 5. [63]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled passenger flights at London Heathrow Airport: [64]

Adria Airways Ljubljana
Aegean Airlines Athens
Aer Lingus [65] Belfast–City, Cork, Dublin, Shannon
Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo
Aeroméxico Mexico City
Air Algérie Algiers
Air Astana Nur-Sultan
Air Canada [66] Calgary, Halifax (suspended), [67] Montréal–Trudeau, Ottawa, St. John's (suspended), [67] Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Air China Beijing–Capital, Chengdu
Air France [68] Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air India Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai
Air Malta Malta
Air Mauritius Mauritius
Air New Zealand Auckland, Los Angeles
Air Serbia Belgrade
Alitalia Milan–Linate, Rome–Fiumicino
All Nippon Airways [69] Tokyo–Haneda
American Airlines [70] Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Raleigh/Durham
Asiana Airlines Seoul–Incheon
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Avianca Bogotá
Azerbaijan Airlines Baku
Beijing Capital Airlines Qingdao
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dhaka, Sylhet
British Airways [71] Aberdeen, Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Accra, Amman–Queen Alia, Amsterdam, Athens, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baltimore, Bengaluru, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg, Beijing–Capital, Beirut, Belfast–City, Berlin–Tegel, Billund, Bologna, Boston, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cairo, Cape Town, Chennai, Chicago–O'Hare, Copenhagen, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dammam (resumes 1 December 2019), [72] Delhi, Denver, Doha, Dubai–International, Dublin, Durban, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gibraltar, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Gran Canaria, Grand Cayman, Hamburg, Hanover, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Houston–Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Innsbruck, Inverness, Islamabad (resumes 2 June 2019), [73] Istanbul, Jeddah, Johannesburg–OR Tambo, Kyiv–Boryspil (ends 3 October 2019), [74] Kraków, Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuwait City, Lagos, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Leeds/Bradford, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Lyon, Madrid, Mahé, Málaga, Manchester, Marseille, Mexico City, Miami, Milan–Linate, Milan–Malpensa, Montréal–Trudeau, Moscow–Domodedovo, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Mumbai, Munich, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Nashville, Nassau, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nice, Osaka–Kansai, Oslo–Gardermoen, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pisa, Pittsburgh, Prague, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Riyadh, Rome–Fiumicino, Saint Petersburg (ends 3 October 2019), [74] San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Santiago de Chile, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Sofia, Stockholm–Arlanda, Stuttgart, Sydney, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Tenerife-South, Tokyo–Haneda, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Toulouse, Valencia, Vancouver, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw–Chopin, Washington–Dulles, Zagreb, Zurich
Seasonal: Bastia (begins 25 May 2019), [75] Brindisi, Calgary, Chania, Charleston, Corfu, Faro, Figari, Grenoble, Ibiza, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Ljubljana (begins 15 July 2019), [76] Marrakesh, Montpellier (resumes 11 July 2019), [76] Muscat, Mykonos, Nantes, Olbia, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Preveza/Lefkada (begins 26 May 2019), [75] Pula, Salzburg, Santorini, Split, Zakynthos
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Bulgaria Air Sofia
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
China Southern Airlines [77] Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan, Zhengzhou (begins 25 June 2019) [78]
Croatia Airlines Zagreb
Seasonal: Split
Delta Air Lines [79] Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Portland (OR), Salt Lake City
EgyptAir Cairo
Seasonal: Luxor
El Al [80] Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion
Emirates Dubai–International
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Eurowings Berlin-Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart
EVA Air Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Taipei–Taoyuan
Finnair Helsinki
Flybe Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Guernsey (ends 26 October 2019), [81] Isle of Man (ends 26 October 2019), [82] Newquay
Garuda Indonesia Denpasar, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta
Gulf Air Bahrain
Hainan Airlines Changsha
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
Iran Air Tehran–Imam Khomeini
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Haneda
Kenya Airways Nairobi–Kenyatta
KLM [83] Amsterdam
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
Kuwait Airways Kuwait City
LATAM Brasil São Paulo–Guarulhos
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa [84] Frankfurt, Munich
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur–International
Middle East Airlines Beirut
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore
Philippine Airlines Manila
Qantas [85] Melbourne, Perth, Singapore, Sydney
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Rabat
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia
Saudia Jeddah, Riyadh
Seasonal: Medina
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm–Arlanda
Shenzhen Airlines Shenzhen
Singapore Airlines Singapore
South African Airways Johannesburg–OR Tambo
SriLankan Airlines Colombo
Swiss International Air Lines Geneva, Zurich
Seasonal: Sion
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
TAROM Bucharest
Thai Airways Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi
Tianjin Airlines Chongqing, Tianjin, Xi'an
Tunisair Tunis
Turkish Airlines [86] Istanbul
Turkmenistan Airlines [87] Ashgabat
United Airlines [88] Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Denver
Uzbekistan Airways Tashkent [89]
Vietnam Airlines Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Virgin Atlantic [90] Atlanta, Boston, Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg–OR Tambo, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai (begins 27 October 2019) [91] , New York–JFK, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion (begins 25 September 2019), [92] Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Barbados
Vueling A Coruña


AirBridgeCargo Airlines Leipzig/Halle, Moscow–Sheremetyevo
Cathay Pacific Cargo Delhi, Dubai–Al Maktoum, Hong Kong, Milan-Malpensa, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
DHL Aviation Amsterdam, Brussels, East Midlands, Frankfurt, Leipzig/Halle, Luton, Madrid–Barajas, Milan-Malpensa, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Porto, Stockholm-Arlanda
Emirates SkyCargo Dubai–Al Maktoum
Korean Air Cargo Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Seoul–Incheon
Qatar Airways Cargo Basel/Mulhouse, Doha
Singapore Airlines Cargo Amsterdam, Sharjah, Singapore

Traffic and statistics


Development of passenger numbers, aircraft movements and air freight between 1986 and 2014 London Heathrow Statistics.png
Development of passenger numbers, aircraft movements and air freight between 1986 and 2014

When ranked by passenger traffic, Heathrow is the sixth busiest internationally, behind Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, Dubai International Airport, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and Tokyo Haneda Airport, for the 12 months ending December 2015. [93]

In 2015, Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe in total passenger traffic, with 14% more passengers than Paris–Charles de Gaulle Airport [94] and 22% more than Istanbul Atatürk Airport. [95] Heathrow was the fourth busiest European airport by cargo traffic in 2013, after Frankfurt Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. [96]

Annual traffic statistics

Traffic statistics at Heathrow [1]
handled [lower-alpha 1]
% Change
% Change
% Change
198735,079,755Increase2.svg10.7574,116Increase2.svg6.9329,977Increase2.svg 4.3
198837,840,503Increase2.svg7.9642,147Increase2.svg11.8351,592Increase2.svg 6.1
198939,881,922Increase2.svg5.4686,170Increase2.svg6.9368,429Increase2.svg 4.6
199042,950,512Increase2.svg7.7695,347Increase2.svg1.3390,372Increase2.svg 5.6
199140,494,575Decrease2.svg5.7654,625Decrease2.svg5.9381,724Decrease2.svg 2.3
199245,242,591Increase2.svg11.7754,770Increase2.svg15.3406,481Increase2.svg 6.1
199347,899,081Increase2.svg5.9846,486Increase2.svg12.2411,173Increase2.svg 1.1
199451,713,366Increase2.svg8.0962,738Increase2.svg13.7424,557Increase2.svg 3.2
199554,461,597Increase2.svg5.31,031,639Increase2.svg7.2434,525Increase2.svg 2.3
199656,049,706Increase2.svg2.91,040,486Increase2.svg0.9440,343Increase2.svg 1.3
199758,185,398Increase2.svg3.81,156,104Increase2.svg11.1440,631Increase2.svg 0.1
199860,683,988Increase2.svg4.31,208,893Increase2.svg4.6451,382Increase2.svg 2.4
199962,268,292Increase2.svg2.61,265,495Increase2.svg4.7458,300Increase2.svg 1.5
200064,618,254Increase2.svg3.81,306,905Increase2.svg3.3466,799Increase2.svg 1.8
200160,764,924Decrease2.svg6.01,180,306Decrease2.svg9.6463,567Decrease2.svg 0.7
200263,362,097Increase2.svg4.31,234,940Increase2.svg4.6466,545Increase2.svg 0.6
200363,495,367Increase2.svg0.21,223,439Decrease2.svg0.9463,650Decrease2.svg 0.6
200467,342,743Increase2.svg6.11,325,173Increase2.svg8.3476,001Increase2.svg 2.6
200567,913,153Increase2.svg0.81,305,686Decrease2.svg1.5477,887Increase2.svg 0.4
200667,527,923Decrease2.svg0.61,264,129Decrease2.svg3.2477,048Decrease2.svg 0.2
200768,066,028Increase2.svg0.81,310,987Increase2.svg3.7481,476Increase2.svg 0.9
200867,054,745Decrease2.svg1.51,397,054Increase2.svg6.6478,693Decrease2.svg 0.6
200966,036,957Decrease2.svg1.51,277,650Decrease2.svg8.5466,393Decrease2.svg 2.6
201065,881,660Decrease2.svg0.21,472,988Increase2.svg15.3454,823Decrease2.svg 2.5
201169,433,230Increase2.svg5.41,484,351Increase2.svg0.8480,906Increase2.svg 5.4
201270,037,417Increase2.svg0.91,464,390Decrease2.svg1.3475,176Decrease2.svg 1.2
201372,367,054Increase2.svg3.31,422,939Decrease2.svg2.8471,936Decrease2.svg 0.7
201473,374,825Increase2.svg1.41,498,906Increase2.svg5.3472,802Increase2.svg 0.2
201574,959,058Increase2.svg2.21,496,551Decrease2.svg0.2473,087Increase2.svg 2.7
201675,676,223Increase2.svg1.01,541,029Increase2.svg3.0473,231Increase2.svg 0.2
201777,988,752Increase2.svg3.11,698,455Increase2.svg9.3474,033Increase2.svg 0.6
201880,102,017Increase2.svg2.71,715,440Increase2.svg0.1480,339Increase2.svg 0.9

Busiest routes

Heathrow Airport processed 80,102,017 passengers in 2018. [1] New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport  was the most popular route with 3,034,155 passengers. [97] The table below shows the 40 busiest international routes at the airport in 2018.

Busiest international routes to and from Heathrow (2018) [97]
2017 / 18
1 Flag of the United States.svg New York–JFK 3,034,155Increase2.svg 3.0%
2 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Dubai–International 2,610,784Decrease2.svg 9.1%
3 Flag of Ireland.svg Dublin 1,809,396Increase2.svg 0.3%
4 Flag of the Netherlands.svg Amsterdam 1,746,528Increase2.svg 3.3%
5 Flag of the United States.svg Los Angeles 1,657,737Increase2.svg 3.6%
6 Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong 1,572,021Decrease2.svg 1.0%
7 Flag of Germany.svg Frankfurt 1,559,218Increase2.svg 3.9%
8 Flag of Singapore.svg Singapore 1,421,105Increase2.svg 15.1%
9 Flag of Spain.svg Madrid 1,417,554Increase2.svg 2.5%
10 Flag of France.svg Paris–Charles de Gaulle 1,250,771Increase2.svg 3.5%
11 Flag of Germany.svg Munich 1,242,063Increase2.svg 4.3%
12 Flag of Qatar.svg Doha 1,181,541Decrease2.svg 8.2%
13 Flag of Switzerland.svg Zurich 1,167,980Increase2.svg 2.5%
14 Flag of the United States.svg Chicago–O'Hare 1,158,537Increase2.svg 9.1%
15 Flag of India.svg Mumbai 1,121,997Increase2.svg 16.4%
16 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Toronto–Pearson 1,091,315Increase2.svg 4.1%
17 Flag of the United States.svg Newark 1,084,275Increase2.svg 6.2%
18 Flag of Italy.svg Rome–Fiumicino 1,076,489Increase2.svg 10.3%
19 Flag of Turkey.svg Istanbul–Atatürk 1,074,397Increase2.svg 5.2%
20 Flag of Switzerland.svg Geneva 1,056,453Decrease2.svg 0.0%
21 Flag of the United States.svg San Francisco 1,055,976Increase2.svg 4.6%
22 Flag of the United States.svg Miami 1,029,366Increase2.svg 4.5%
23 Flag of India.svg New Delhi 1,021,351Decrease2.svg 0.2%
24 Flag of Denmark.svg Copenhagen 1,012,730Increase2.svg 3.0%
25 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Abu Dhabi 1,010,388Increase2.svg 0.6%
26 Flag of Sweden.svg Stockholm–Arlanda 970,622Decrease2.svg 4.2%
27 Flag of South Africa.svg Johannesburg–Tambo 933,357Decrease2.svg 2.2%
28 Flag of Portugal.svg Lisbon 853,048Decrease2.svg 1.4%
29 Flag of the United States.svg Boston 849,443Increase2.svg 4.3%
30 Flag of Austria.svg Vienna 840,882Increase2.svg 4.1%
31 Flag of the United States.svg Washington–Dulles 838,389Decrease2.svg 0.9%
32 Flag of Thailand.svg Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi 828,432Decrease2.svg 2.6%
33 Flag of Germany.svg Berlin–Tegel 817,252Increase2.svg 4.9%
34 Flag of Finland.svg Helsinki 774,505Increase2.svg 8.4%
35 Flag of Spain.svg Barcelona 764,204Increase2.svg 11.8%
36 Flag of Greece.svg Athens 753,589Decrease2.svg 1.0%
37 Flag of Germany.svg Düsseldorf 737,313Decrease2.svg 0.6%
38 Flag of the United States.svg Dallas/Fort Worth 710,461Increase2.svg 4.9%
39 Flag of Italy.svg Milan Linate 672,959Increase2.svg 2.4%
40 Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Brussels 672,319Increase2.svg 3.3%
Busiest domestic routes to and from Heathrow (2018) [97]
2017 / 18
1 Flag of Scotland.svg Edinburgh 1,198,848Increase2.svg 1.6%
2 Flag of Scotland.svg Glasgow 911,191Increase2.svg 0.2%
3 Flag of Scotland.svg Aberdeen 675,816Increase2.svg 8.6%
4 Ulster Banner.svg Belfast-City 655,288Decrease2.svg 5.2%
5 Flag of England.svg Manchester 654,071Decrease2.svg 1.7%
6 Flag of England.svg Newcastle 496,193Increase2.svg 0.9%
7 Flag of England.svg Leeds Bradford 103,706Decrease2.svg 36.0%
8 Flag of Scotland.svg Inverness 97,591Increase2.svg 23.4%

Other facilities

The Compass Centre, the head office of Heathrow Airport Holdings Compass Building on the Bath Road by Philip Jeffrey.jpg
The Compass Centre, the head office of Heathrow Airport Holdings

The head office of Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly BAA Limited) is located in the Compass Centre by Heathrow's northern runway, a building that previously served as a British Airways flight crew centre. [98] The World Business Centre Heathrow consists of three buildings. 1 World Business Centre houses offices of Heathrow Airport Holdings, Heathrow Airport itself, and Scandinavian Airlines. [99] Previously International Airlines Group had its head office in 2 World Business Centre. [100] [101]

At one time the British Airways head office was located within Heathrow Airport at Speedbird House [102] before the completion of Waterside, the current BA head office in Harmondsworth, in June 1998. [103]

To the north of the airfield lies the Northern Perimeter Road, along which most of Heathrow's car rental agencies are based, and Bath Road, which runs parallel to it, but outside the airport campus. This is nicknamed "The Strip" by locals, because of its continuous line of airport hotels.


Public transport

Heathrow Airport tube and rail stations Heathrow Airport tube and rail stations.png
Heathrow Airport tube and rail stations


Heathrow Express train at Paddington station 332002 at Paddington ABU.jpg
Heathrow Express train at Paddington station

Bus and coach

Many buses and coaches operate from the large Heathrow Central bus station serving Terminals 2 and 3, and also from bus stations at Terminals 4 and 5.

Inter-terminal transport

All terminals lie within the Heathrow Free Travel Zone with free travel between the terminals. Terminals 2 and 3 are within walking distance of each other. Transfers from Terminals 2 and 3 to Terminal 4 and 5 are provided by Heathrow Express trains and the London Underground Piccadilly line. [106] Direct transfer between Terminals 4 and 5 is provided by London Buses routes 482 and 490. [107]

Transit passengers remaining airside are provided with free dedicated transfer buses between terminals.

ULTra Personal Rapid Transport opened in April 2011 to shuttle passengers between Terminal 5 and the business car park at a speed of up to 40 km/h (25 mph). There are 21 small transportation pods that can each carry up to four adults, two children, and their luggage. The pods are battery-powered and run on a four-kilometre track. The capsules run on demand. The provider claims a 95% availability rate and no accidents so far. [108] Plans to use the same technology to connect Terminals 2 and 3 to remote car parks were included in the draft 2014–2019 five-year master plan but have since been deferred due to other priorities. [109]

Hotel access

The Hotel Hoppa bus network connects all terminals to major hotels in the area. [110]


Taxis are available at all terminals. [111]


Entrance at the southern end of the M4 Motorway spur, showing a scale model of Concorde, replaced since 2008 by the Emirates A380 scale model. Heathrow Airport - geograph.org.uk - 231165.jpg
Entrance at the southern end of the M4 Motorway spur, showing a scale model of Concorde, replaced since 2008 by the Emirates A380 scale model.

Heathrow is accessible via the nearby M4 motorway or A4 road (Terminals 2–3), 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- [113] [114] and long-stay [115] multi-storey car parks. All the Heathrow forecourts are drop-off only. [116] There are further car parks, not run by Heathrow Airport Holdings, just outside the airport: the most recognisable is the National Car Parks facility, although there are many other options; these car parks are connected to the terminals by shuttle buses.

Four parallel tunnels under the northern runway connect the M4 Heathrow spur and the A4 road to Terminals 2–3. The two larger tunnels are each two 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. Pedestrian access to the smaller tunnels has been discontinued, with the free bus services being used instead.


There are (mainly off-road) bicycle routes to some of the terminals. [117] Free bicycle parking places are available in car parks 1 and 1A, at Terminal 4, and to the North and South of Terminal 5's Interchange Plaza. Travelers are not allowed to cycle through the main tunnel to access Terminals 2 and 3 (Terminal 1 closed in 2015). [118]

Incidents and accidents

British Airways Flight 38 which crash landed just short of the runway on 17 January 2008 BA38 Crash.jpg
British Airways Flight 38 which crash landed just short of the runway on 17 January 2008

Terrorism and security incidents

Other incidents

Future expansion and plans

Runway and terminal expansion

British Airways aircraft queuing for take-off Take off queue, Heathrow, 10 Sept. 2010 - Flickr - PhillipC.jpg
British Airways aircraft queuing for take-off

There is a long history of expansion proposals for Heathrow since it was first designated as a civil airport. Following the cancellation of the Maplin project in 1974, a fourth terminal was proposed but expansion beyond this ruled out. However, the Airports Inquiries of 1981-83 and the 1985 Airports Policy White Paper considered further expansion and, following a four-year long public inquiry in 1995-99, Terminal 5 was approved. In 2003, after many studies and consultations, the Future of Air Transport White Paper was published which proposed a third runway at Heathrow, as well as a second runway at Stansted Airport. [150] In January 2009, the Transport Secretary at the time, Geoff Hoon announced that the British government supported the expansion of Heathrow by building a third 2,200-metre (7,200 ft) runway and a sixth terminal building. [151] This decision followed the 2003 white paper on the future of air transport in the UK, [152] and a public consultation in November 2007. [153] This was a controversial decision which met with widespread opposition because of the expected greenhouse gas emissions, impact on local communities, as well as noise and air pollution concerns. [154]

Prior to the 2010 general election, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties announced that they would prevent the construction of any third runway or further material expansion of the airport's operating capacity. The Mayor of London, then Boris Johnson, took the position that London needs more airport capacity, favouring the construction of an entirely new airport in the Thames Estuary rather than expanding Heathrow. [155] After the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took power, it was announced that the third runway expansion was cancelled. [156] Two years later, leading Conservatives were reported to have changed their minds on the subject. [157]

Another proposal for expanding Heathrow's capacity was the Heathrow Hub, which aims to extend both runways to a total length of about 7,000 metres and divide them into four so that they each provide two, full length runways, allowing simultaneous take-offs and landings while decreasing noise levels. [158] [159]

In July 2013, the airport submitted three new proposals for expansion to the Airports Commission, which was established to review airport capacity in the southeast of England. The Airports Commission was chaired by Sir Howard Davies who, at the time of his appointment was in the employ of GIC Private Limited (formerly known as Government Investment Corporation of Singapore) and a member of its International Advisory Board. GIC Private Limited was then (2012), as it remains today, one of Heathrow's principal owners. Sir Howard Davies resigned these positions upon confirmation of his appointment to lead the Airports Commission, although it has been observed that he failed to identify these interests when invited to complete the Airports Commission's register of interests. Each of the three proposals that were to be considered by Sir Howard Davies's commission involved the construction of a third runway, either to the north, northwest or southwest of the airport. [160]

The commission released its interim report in December 2013, shortlisting three options: the north-west third runway option at Heathrow, extending an existing runway at Heathrow, and a second runway at Gatwick Airport. After this report was published, the government confirmed that no options had been ruled out for airport expansion in the South-east and that a new runway would not be built at Heathrow before 2015. [161] The full report was published on 1 July 2015, and backed a third, north-west, runway at Heathrow. [162] Reaction to the report was generally negative, particularly from London Mayor Boris Johnson. One senior Conservative told Channel 4: "Howard Davies has dumped an utter steaming pile of poo on the Prime Minister's desk." [163] On 25 October 2016, the government confirmed that Heathrow would be allowed to build a third runway; however, a final decision would not be taken until winter of 2017/18, after consultations and government votes. The earliest opening year would be 2025. On 5 June 2018, the UK Cabinet approved the third runway, with a full vote planned for Parliament. [164] On 25 June 2018, the House of Commons voted, 415–119, in favour of the third runway. [165] The bill received support from most MPs in the Conservative and Labour parties. [166] A judicial review against the decision is being launched by four London local authorities affected by the expansion—Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Hammersmith and Fulham—in partnership with Greenpeace and London mayor Sadiq Khan. [167] Khan previously stated he would take legal action if it were passed by Parliament. [168]

New transport proposals

One of the transport projects being considered is the Western Rail Approach to Heathrow Western Rail Approach to Heathrow.png
One of the transport projects being considered is the Western Rail Approach to Heathrow

Currently, all rail connections with Heathrow airport run along an east-west alignment to and from central London, and a number of schemes have been proposed over the years to develop new rail transport links with other parts of London and with stations outside the city. [169] This mainline rail service is due to be extended to central London and Essex when the Elizabeth line, currently under construction, opens in 2019. [170]

A 2009 proposal to create a southern link with London Waterloo via the Waterloo–Reading line was abandoned in 2011 due to lack of funding and difficulties with a high number of level crossings on the route into London, [171] [172] and a plan to link Heathrow to the planned High Speed 2 (HS2) railway line (with a new station, Heathrow Hub) was also dropped from the HS2 plans in March 2015. [173] [174] [175]

Among other schemes that have been considered is a rapid transport link between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, known as Heathwick , which would allow the airports to operate jointly as an airline hub; [176] [177] In 2018, the Department for Transport began to invite proposals for privately funded rail links to Heathrow Airport. [178] Projects being considered under this initiative include:

Heathrow City

The Mayor of London's office and Transport for London commissioned plans in the event of Heathrow's closure—to replace it by a large built-up area. [182] [183] [184] [185] Some of the plans seem to show terminal 5, or part of it, kept as a shopping centre.

See also


  1. Number of passengers including domestic, international and transit

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Birmingham Airport, formerly Birmingham International Airport and before that, Elmdon Airport, is an international airport located 7 nautical miles east-southeast of Birmingham city centre, slightly north of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, England. It has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Passenger throughput in 2017 was over 12.9 million, making Birmingham the seventh busiest UK airport. The airport offers both domestic flights within the UK and international flights to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, North America and the Caribbean. Birmingham Airport is an operating base for Flybe, Jet2.com, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI Airways.

Belfast International Airport The main airport in Northern Ireland

Belfast International Airport is an airport 11.5 NM northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Formerly known as Aldergrove Airport, after the nearby village of Aldergrove, Belfast International is Northern Ireland's busiest airport and the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland after Dublin Airport. In 2018, over 6.2 million passengers travelled through the airport, marking a 7.4% increase compared with 2017. It features flights to some European metropolitan and several leisure destinations as well as seasonal long-haul routes to the United States.

Inverness Airport airport in Inverness, Scotland

Inverness Airport is an international airport situated at Dalcross, 7 NM north-east of the city of Inverness, Scotland. It is owned by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL). The airport is the main gateway for travellers to the north of Scotland with a range of scheduled services throughout the United Kingdom, and limited scheduled service to Continental Europe. Limited charter and freight flights operate throughout the UK and Europe. Around 900,000 passengers passed through the airport in 2018. The airport is also headquarters to Dalcross Handling which now operates across Scotland.

The EU–US Open Skies Agreement is an open skies air transport agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States. The agreement allows any airline of the European Union and any airline of the United States to fly between any point in the European Union and any point in the United States. Both EU and US airlines are allowed to fly on to a further destination in another country after their initial stop. Because the EU is not treated as a single territory for the purposes of the Agreement, this means in practice that US airlines can fly between two points in the EU as long as that flight is the continuation of a flight that started in the US. Airlines of the European Union are also allowed to fly between the United States and non-EU countries that are part of the European Common Aviation Area, like Switzerland. EU and US airlines can operate all-cargo flights under Seventh Freedom rights, meaning US airlines' all-cargo flights can be operated from one EU country to any other country and EU airlines' all-cargo flights can operate between the US and any other country. Norway and Iceland acceded to the Agreement from 2011 and their airlines enjoy the same rights as EU airlines.

Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport airport in Lebanon

Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport, formerly Beirut International Airport, is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) from the city center in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, and is the only operational commercial airport in the country. It is the hub for Lebanon's national carrier, Middle East Airlines. It is also the hub for the Lebanese charter carrier Wings of Lebanon, and was the hub for the Lebanese cargo carrier TMA cargo before its collapse.

Heathrow Terminal 5 airport terminal at London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Terminal 5 is an airport terminal at Heathrow Airport, the main airport serving London. Opened in 2008, the main building in the complex is the largest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom. Terminal 5 is currently used exclusively as one of the three global hubs of International Airlines Group, served by British Airways and Iberia, with the others being London Gatwick South and Madrid Barajas Terminal 4. Prior to 2012, the terminal was used solely by British Airways.

Heathrow Terminal 3 airport terminal at London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Terminal 3 is an airport terminal at Heathrow Airport, serving London, the capital city of England. Terminal 3 is currently used by Oneworld members and a few other non-affiliated airlines. It is also the base for Virgin Atlantic.

The extension of Heathrow Airport has involved several proposals by Heathrow Airport Holdings and an independent proposal by Heathrow Hub, to increase capacity at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Terminal 2 airport terminal at London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Terminal 2, also known as The Queen's Terminal, is an airport terminal at Heathrow Airport, the main airport serving London, United Kingdom. The new development was originally named Heathrow East Terminal, and occupies the sites where the previous Terminal 2 and the Queens Building stood. It was designed by Luis Vidal + Architects and opened on 4 June 2014. The original Terminal 2 opened in 1955 as the Europa Building and was the airport's oldest terminal.

The expansion of Gatwick Airport has involved several proposals aimed at increasing airport capacity in south east England and relieving congestion at the main hub airport Heathrow.

Gatwick Airport was in Surrey until 1974, when it became part of West Sussex as a result of a county boundary change. The original, pre-World War II airport was built on the site of a manor in the parish of Charlwood. The land was first used as an aerodrome in the 1920s, and in 1933 commercial flights there were approved by the Air Ministry.



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