London Heathrow Airport
Overview
 
London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , in the London Borough of Hillingdon
London Borough of Hillingdon
The London Borough of Hillingdon is the westernmost borough in Greater London, England. The borough's population was recorded as 243,006 in the 2001 Census. The borough incorporates the former districts of Ruislip-Northwood, Uxbridge, Hayes and Harlington and Yiewsley and West Drayton in the...

, is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom
Busiest airports in the United Kingdom by total passenger traffic
The tables below contain CAA data from 2006 to 2009, on the busiest airports in the United Kingdom by total passenger traffic, including information on international, domestic and transit counterparts...

 and the third busiest airport in the world
World's busiest airports by passenger traffic
The world's busiest airports by passenger traffic are measured by number of total passengers . One passenger is described as someone who arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport on a given day...

 (as of 2011) in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers
World's busiest airports by international passenger traffic
The following is a list of the world's busiest airports by international passenger traffic.London Heathrow has been the busiest since 2000-2010 year-to-date statistics:Airports Council International's year-to-date figures are as follows....

 than any other airport around the globe. It is also the busiest airport in the EU by passenger traffic and the third busiest in Europe given the number of traffic movements
World's busiest airports by traffic movements
The thirty world's busiest airports by aircraft movements are measured by total movements . One total movement is a landing or take off of an aircraft.- 2010 final statistics :-2009 final statistics:...

, with a figure surpassed only by Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport may refer to:Airports of Frankfurt, Germany:*Frankfurt Airport , the largest airport in Germany*Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport, a general aviation airport*Frankfurt-Hahn Airport , a converted U.S...

. Heathrow is London's main airport, having replaced RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station situated in South Ruislip, east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Approximately north of London Heathrow Airport, the station also handles a large number of private civil flights...

, and together with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City
London City Airport
London City Airport is a single-runway airport. It principally serves the financial district of London and is located on a former Docklands site, east of the City of London, opposite the London Regatta Centre, in the London Borough of Newham in east London. It was developed by the engineering...

, more than 175 million passengers have travelled in total, making London by far the busiest city airport system
World's busiest city airport systems by passenger traffic
The world's busiest city airport systems by passenger traffic are measured by total number of passengers from all airports within a city or metropolitan area combined...

 in the world.

The airport is owned and operated by BAA Limited, who also own and operate five other UK airports.
Encyclopedia
London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , in the London Borough of Hillingdon
London Borough of Hillingdon
The London Borough of Hillingdon is the westernmost borough in Greater London, England. The borough's population was recorded as 243,006 in the 2001 Census. The borough incorporates the former districts of Ruislip-Northwood, Uxbridge, Hayes and Harlington and Yiewsley and West Drayton in the...

, is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom
Busiest airports in the United Kingdom by total passenger traffic
The tables below contain CAA data from 2006 to 2009, on the busiest airports in the United Kingdom by total passenger traffic, including information on international, domestic and transit counterparts...

 and the third busiest airport in the world
World's busiest airports by passenger traffic
The world's busiest airports by passenger traffic are measured by number of total passengers . One passenger is described as someone who arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport on a given day...

 (as of 2011) in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers
World's busiest airports by international passenger traffic
The following is a list of the world's busiest airports by international passenger traffic.London Heathrow has been the busiest since 2000-2010 year-to-date statistics:Airports Council International's year-to-date figures are as follows....

 than any other airport around the globe. It is also the busiest airport in the EU by passenger traffic and the third busiest in Europe given the number of traffic movements
World's busiest airports by traffic movements
The thirty world's busiest airports by aircraft movements are measured by total movements . One total movement is a landing or take off of an aircraft.- 2010 final statistics :-2009 final statistics:...

, with a figure surpassed only by Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport may refer to:Airports of Frankfurt, Germany:*Frankfurt Airport , the largest airport in Germany*Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport, a general aviation airport*Frankfurt-Hahn Airport , a converted U.S...

. Heathrow is London's main airport, having replaced RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station situated in South Ruislip, east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Approximately north of London Heathrow Airport, the station also handles a large number of private civil flights...

, and together with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City
London City Airport
London City Airport is a single-runway airport. It principally serves the financial district of London and is located on a former Docklands site, east of the City of London, opposite the London Regatta Centre, in the London Borough of Newham in east London. It was developed by the engineering...

, more than 175 million passengers have travelled in total, making London by far the busiest city airport system
World's busiest city airport systems by passenger traffic
The world's busiest city airport systems by passenger traffic are measured by total number of passengers from all airports within a city or metropolitan area combined...

 in the world.

The airport is owned and operated by BAA Limited, who also own and operate five other UK airports. BAA is owned by ADI Limited, an international consortium led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group
Ferrovial
Ferrovial, S.A. is a Spanish multinational company involved in the design, build, financing, operation and maintenance of transport, urban and services infrastructure. It is a publicly-traded company and is part of the IBEX 35 market value-weighted stock market index...

, which also includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec manages public pension plans in the Canadian province of Quebec. It was founded in 1965 by an act of the National Assembly...

 and GIC Special Investments
Government of Singapore Investment Corporation
The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Private Limited is a sovereign wealth fund established by the Government of Singapore in 1981 to manage Singapore's foreign reserves...

. Heathrow is a primary hub for BMI
Bmi (airline)
British Midland Airways Limited , is an airline based at Donington Hall in Castle Donington in the United Kingdom, close to East Midlands Airport, and a fully owned subsidiary of Lufthansa...

 and British Airways
British Airways
British Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, based in Waterside, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. British Airways is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations...

 as well as a base for Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited is a British airline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines...

.

Heathrow lies 12 NM west of Central London, and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals
Airport terminal
An airport terminal is a building at an airport where passengers transfer between ground transportation and the facilities that allow them to board and disembark from aircraft....

 on a site that covers 12.14 square kilometres (4.7 sq mi). Terminal 5 was officially dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 on 14 March 2008 and opened to passengers on 27 March 2008. Construction of a new Terminal 2 complex to replace the old terminal building and adjacent Queen's Building began in 2009 with the first phase expected to open in 2014. Terminals 3 and 4 underwent major refurbishments between 2007–2009. In November 2007, a consultation process began for the building of a new third runway and a sixth terminal, which was controversially approved on 15 January 2009 by UK Government ministers. The project was subsequently cancelled on 12 May 2010 by the Cameron Government
Cameron Ministry
David Cameron is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, after being invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government after the resignation as Prime Minister of Gordon Brown on 11 May 2010. Leading a coalition government formed by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, the coalition...

.

The airport holds a Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P527), which allows flights for public transportation of passengers or for flying instruction.

Location

Heathrow is 12 nmi (22.2 km) west of central London, near the south end of the London Borough of Hillingdon
London Borough of Hillingdon
The London Borough of Hillingdon is the westernmost borough in Greater London, England. The borough's population was recorded as 243,006 in the 2001 Census. The borough incorporates the former districts of Ruislip-Northwood, Uxbridge, Hayes and Harlington and Yiewsley and West Drayton in the...

 on a parcel of land that is designated part of the Metropolitan Green Belt
Metropolitan Green Belt
The Metropolitan Green Belt is a statutory green belt around London, England. It includes designated parts of Greater London and the surrounding counties of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey in the South East and East of England regions.-History:The...

. The airport is surrounded by the built-up areas of Harlington
Harlington, London
Harlington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Hillingdon, on the northern perimeter of London Heathrow Airport. It is situated west of Charing Cross.-Etymology:...

, Harmondsworth
Harmondsworth
Harmondsworth is a village in the London Borough of Hillingdon, close to London Heathrow Airport. The village is situated south of West Drayton.The nearest places are: Hayes, Harlington, Heathrow Airport, Longford, London, Sipson, West Drayton and Yiewsley....

, Longford
Longford, London
Longford is a village immediately west of London Heathrow Airport in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Longford is located 15.8 miles west of Charing Cross.-Etymology:...

 and Cranford
Cranford, London
Cranford is a place in the London Borough of Hounslow. It is a suburban development located 12.4 miles west of Charing Cross and on the eastern perimeter of London Heathrow Airport....

 to the north and by Hounslow
Hounslow
Hounslow is the principal town in the London Borough of Hounslow. It is a suburban development situated 10.6 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It forms a post town in the TW postcode area.-Etymology:...

 and Hatton
Hatton, London
Hatton is a small settlement in the London Borough of Hounslow, on the southern perimeter of London Heathrow Airport and on the A30 road.-Etymology:Hatton's name comes from Anglo-Saxon Hǣþtūn = "heath farmstead".-Neighbours:...

 to the east. To the south lie East Bedfont
East Bedfont
Bedfont is a small suburban town in Greater London, some to the west of central London and only from Heathrow Airport. It straddles the Staines Road at the west of the London Borough of Hounslow from Baber Bridge on the River Crane to the Surrey boundary at Ashford.-Origins and Mediaeval...

 and Stanwell
Stanwell
Stanwell is a suburban village in the Surrey borough of Spelthorne. It is located 15.7 miles west south-west of Charing Cross and half a mile from the southern boundary of London Heathrow Airport and the London Borough of Hillingdon...

 while to the west Heathrow is separated from Colnbrook
Colnbrook
Colnbrook is a large village in the unitary authority of Slough, in Berkshire, England. It is situated southeast of central Slough, east of Windsor and west of central London....

 in Berkshire by the M25 motorway
M25 motorway
The M25 motorway, or London Orbital, is a orbital motorway that almost encircles Greater London, England, in the United Kingdom. The motorway was first mooted early in the 20th century. A few sections, based on the now abandoned London Ringways plan, were constructed in the early 1970s and it ...

.

As the airport is west of London and as its runways run east–west, an airliner's landing approach is usually directly over the city of London. Other leading European airports, such as those at Madrid, Frankfurt and Paris, are located north or south of their respective cities to minimise the overflying problem.

Along with Biggin Hill
London Biggin Hill Airport
London Biggin Hill Airport is an airport at Biggin Hill in the London Borough of Bromley, located south southeast of Central London, United Kingdom...

, Gatwick, Stansted
London Stansted Airport
-Cargo:-Statistics:-Infrastructure:-Terminal and satellite buildings:Stansted is the newest passenger airport of all the main London airports. The terminal is an oblong glass building, and is separated in to three areas: Check-in concourse, arrivals and departures...

, Luton
London Luton Airport
London Luton Airport is an international airport located east of the town centre in the Borough of Luton in Bedfordshire, England and is north of Central London. The airport is from Junction 10a of the M1 motorway...

, Southend
London Southend Airport
London Southend Airport or Southend Airport is a regional airport in the district of Rochford within Essex, England.During the 1960s, Southend was the third-busiest airport in the United Kingdom. It remained London's third-busiest airport in terms of passengers handled until the end of the 1970s,...

 and City
London City Airport
London City Airport is a single-runway airport. It principally serves the financial district of London and is located on a former Docklands site, east of the City of London, opposite the London Regatta Centre, in the London Borough of Newham in east London. It was developed by the engineering...

, Heathrow is one of seven airports serving the London area although only Heathrow, Biggin Hill and City are located within Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

.

History

For a chronicled history of Heathrow Airport, see History of London Heathrow Airport
History of London Heathrow Airport
In its early years what is now London Heathrow Airport was the Great West Aerodrome, sometimes known as Heathrow Aerodrome.-Before 1920:...

.

Heathrow Airport started in 1929 as a small airfield on land southeast of the hamlet of Heathrow (which is roughly where Terminal 3 is today). It was then selected for development as an aerodrome in 1944 for long-distance military aircraft bound for the far east. But by the time the aerodrome was nearing completion, World War 2 had ended. The government decided to once again develop the site, but this time as a civil airport, known as London Airport and later Heathrow.

Heathrow today

Heathrow Airport is used by over 90 airlines flying to 170 destinations worldwide. The airport is the primary hub
Airline hub
An airline hub is an airport that an airline uses as a transfer point to get passengers to their intended destination. It is part of a hub and spoke model, where travelers moving between airports not served by direct flights change planes en route to their destinations...

 of BMI and British Airways, and is a base for Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited is a British airline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines...

.

Of Heathrow's 67 million annual passengers, 11% are bound for UK destinations, 43% are short-haul international travellers and 46% are long-haul. The busiest single destination in terms of passenger numbers is New York, with over 3.7 million passengers travelling between Heathrow and JFK / Newark airports in 2008 and 3.5 million in 2009. The airport has five passenger terminals (Terminals 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) and a cargo terminal.

In the 1950s, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles in shape, with the permanent passenger terminal in the centre and the older terminal along the north edge of the field, and two of its runways would always be within 30° of the wind direction. As the required length for runways has grown, Heathrow now has just two parallel runways running east–west.

Policing of the airport is the responsibility of the aviation security
Aviation Security Operational Command Unit
The Aviation Security Operational Command Unit is a Specialist Operations unit of London's Metropolitan Police Service. The unit is responsible for providing law enforcement and security for both Heathrow and London City airports...

 unit of the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police Service is the territorial police force responsible for Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police...

, although the army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, including armoured vehicles of the Household Cavalry
Household Cavalry
The term Household Cavalry is used across the Commonwealth to describe the cavalry of the Household Divisions, a country’s most elite or historically senior military groupings or those military groupings that provide functions associated directly with the Head of state.Canada's Governor General's...

, has occasionally been deployed at the airport during periods of heightened security. Heathrow's reputation for thefts has led to it sometimes being referred to as 'Thiefrow'.

Full body scanners are now used at the airport and passengers who object to their use are not allowed to fly.

Heathrow Airport has Anglican, Catholic, Free Church of Scotland, Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 chaplains. There is a multi-faith prayer room and counselling room in each terminal in addition to St. George's Interdenominational Chapel
St. George's Interdenominational Chapel, Heathrow Airport
St. George's Interdenominational Chapel, Heathrow Airport, is a place of worship situated in London Heathrow Airport near London, in England. The chapel was designed by Tony Meadows Architects and named after St. George...

 located in an underground bunker adjacent to the old control tower, where Christian services take place. The chaplains organise and lead prayers at certain times in the prayer room.

Heathrow 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.

Operations

Aircraft destined for Heathrow usually enter its airspace via one of four main reporting points: Bovingdon
Bovingdon stack
The Bovingdon stack is a section of airspace to the north west of London where inbound planes to London Heathrow Airport, which is 20 miles to the south, are held. It is a busy example of a hold. It extends above the village of Bovingdon and the town of Chesham, and requires the VOR navigational...

 (BNN) over Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

, Lambourne (LAM) over Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, Biggin Hill (BIG) over Bromley
Bromley
Bromley is a large suburban town in south east London, England and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Bromley. It was historically a market town, and prior to 1963 was in the county of Kent and formed the administrative centre of the Municipal Borough of Bromley...

 and Ockham (OCK) over Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

. Each is defined by a VOR
VHF omnidirectional range
VOR, short for VHF omnidirectional radio range, is a type of radio navigation system for aircraft. A VOR ground station broadcasts a VHF radio composite signal including the station's identifier, voice , and navigation signal. The identifier is typically a two- or three-letter string in Morse code...

 radio-navigational beacon. When the airport is busy, aircraft orbit in the associated hold
Holding (aviation)
In aviation, holding is a maneuver designed to delay an aircraft already in flight while keeping it within a specified airspace.-Implementation:...

 patterns. These reporting points/holds lie to the north-west, north-east, south-east and south-west of the London conurbation.

Air traffic controller
Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers are the people who expedite and maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. The position of the air traffic controller is one that requires highly specialized skills...

s at Heathrow Approach Control (based in Swanwick, Hampshire
Swanwick, Hampshire
Swanwick is a village in Hampshire, England, east of the River Hamble and north of the M27 motorway.The village is located within the borough of Fareham and is the site of the London Area Control Centre and the London Terminal Control Centre part of National Air Traffic Services Air Traffic...

) 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 NM apart. Considerable use is made of continuous descent approach
Continuous Descent Approach
Continuous Descent Approach or Optimized Profile Descent is a method by which aircraft approach airports prior to landing. It is designed to reduce fuel consumption and noise compared to certain conventional approaches and involves maintaining a constant three degree descent angle during landing,...

 techniques to minimise the environmental effects of incoming aircraft, particularly at night. Once an aircraft is established on its final approach, control is handed over to Heathrow Tower.

Because aircraft generate significantly more noise on departure than when landing, there is a preference for westerly operations during daylight. In this mode, aircraft depart towards the west and approach from the east over London, thereby minimising 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 easterly landings are in progress there is no alternation; 09L remains the landing runway and 09R the departure runway due to the Cranford Agreement. Occasionally, 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.

Night-time flights at Heathrow are subject to restrictions
Night flying restrictions
Night flying restrictions is any regulation or legislation imposed by a governing body to limit the ground-perceived exposure to aircraft noise during the night hours, when the majority of residents are trying to sleep...

. Between 23:00 and 07:00, the noisiest aircraft (rated QC
Quota Count system
Quota Count is a system used in the UK by London's Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted airports to limit the amount of noise generated by aircraft movements at night time .- Description :...

/8 and QC/16) cannot be scheduled for operation. In addition, during the night quota period (23:30–06:00) there are three limits:
  • A limit on the number of flights allowed;
  • A quota count system
    Quota Count system
    Quota Count is a system used in the UK by London's Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted airports to limit the amount of noise generated by aircraft movements at night time .- Description :...

     which limits the total amount of noise permitted, but allows operators to choose to operate fewer noisy aircraft or a greater number of quieter planes;
  • A voluntary ban on QC
    Quota Count system
    Quota Count is a system used in the UK by London's Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted airports to limit the amount of noise generated by aircraft movements at night time .- Description :...

    /4 aircraft.

Regulation

As BAA own Heathrow and Stansted, two of London's major airports (respectively the first and third busiest by passengers in London), they hold a dominiant position in the London Aviation market and are heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as to the amounts they charge airlines to land at Heathrow. Until 1 April 2003, the annual increase in landing charge
Landing fee
A landing fee is a charge paid by an aircraft to an airport company for landing at a particular airport. Landing fees can vary greatly between airports, with congested airports, ones where most of the landing slots are held by airlines being able to charge premium prices because of supply and...

 per passenger was capped at inflation minus 3%. 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.

Prior to 2008, Air traffic between Heathrow and the United States was strictly governed by the countries' bilateral Bermuda II
Bermuda II
Bermuda II was a bilateral air transport agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States signed on 23 July 1977 as a renegotiation of the original 1946 Bermuda air services agreement...

 treaty. The treaty originally allowed only British Airways, Pan Am
Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991...

 and TWA
Trans World Airlines
Trans World Airlines was an American airline that existed from 1925 until it was bought out by and merged with American Airlines in 2001. It was a major domestic airline in the United States and the main U.S.-based competitor of Pan American World Airways on intercontinental routes from 1946...

 to fly from Heathrow to the US. In 1991, PAA and TWA sold their rights to United Airlines
United Airlines
United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees (which includes the entire holding company United Continental...

 and American Airlines
American Airlines
American Airlines, Inc. is the world's fourth-largest airline in passenger miles transported and operating revenues. American Airlines is a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas adjacent to its largest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport...

 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 terms of its EU membership, and as a consequence the UK was ordered to drop the agreement in 2004. A new "open skies
EU–U.S. Open Skies Agreement
The EU–US Open Skies Agreement is an air transport agreement between the European Union 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. Airlines of...

" agreement was signed by the United States and the European Union on 30 April 2007 and came into effect on 30 March 2008. Since then, additional US Airlines including Continental
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines was a major American airline now merged with United Airlines. On May 3, 2010, Continental Airlines, Inc. and UAL, Inc. announced a merger via a stock swap, and on October 1, 2010, the merger closed and UAL changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc...

, US Airways
US Airways
US Airways, Inc. is a major airline based in the U.S. city of Tempe, Arizona. The airline is an operating unit of US Airways Group and is the sixth largest airline by traffic and eighth largest by market value in the country....

 and Delta
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines, Inc. is a major airline based in the United States and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The airline operates an extensive domestic and international network serving all continents except Antarctica. Delta and its subsidiaries operate over 4,000 flights every day...

 have started services to Heathrow.

Whilst the cost of landing at Heathrow is determined by the CAA and BAA, the allocation of landing slots
Landing slots
Landing slots or Airport slots are rights allocated to an entity by an airport or government agency granting the slot owner the right to schedule a landing or departure during a specific time period....

 to airlines is carried out by Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL).

According to BAA, Heathrow's facilities were originally designed to accommodate 55 million passengers annually. With this number currently approaching 70 million, the airport has been criticised in recent years for its overcrowding and delays, and in 2007 the airport was voted the world's least favourite alongside Chicago O'Hare
O'Hare International Airport
Chicago O'Hare International Airport , also known as O'Hare Airport, O'Hare Field, Chicago Airport, Chicago International Airport, or simply O'Hare, is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, United States, northwest of the Chicago Loop...

 in a TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor.com is a travel website that assists customers in gathering travel information, posting reviews and opinions of travel-related content and engaging in interactive travel forums. It is part of the TripAdvisor Media Group, operated by Expedia, Inc. TripAdvisor is a pioneer of...

 survey. 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 a year.

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. In order to increase the number of flights, BAA have 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. BAA also proposed building a third runway to the north of the airport, which would have significantly increased traffic capacity (see Future expansion below).

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 opened in 1968 and was formally inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in May 1969. Before Terminal 5 opened, Terminal 1 was the base for British Airways' domestic network from Heathrow and for a few of its long haul routes.

In 2005, substantial redesign and redevelopment of the terminal saw the opening of the new Eastern Extension, doubling the size of the departure lounge and creating additional seating as well as retail space. With an area of 74,601m2, the terminal is home to Heathrow's second largest carrier, Star Alliance
Star Alliance
Star Alliance is the world's first and largest airline alliance, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany . The alliance was founded in 1997 by five of the world's leading airlines: Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International and United Airlines...

 member BMI, Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

, and several other Star Alliance airlines. Some of the newer airplane boarding gates used by airlines present in Terminal 1 are numbered in Terminal 2 (i.e. gate 2xx instead of gate 1xx). Those recently built gates will be retained as part of the new Terminal 2 after Terminal 2 officially opens. A temporary connector is in place between the (older) Terminal 1 and these (recently built) airplane gates.

Terminal 1 will be closed and then demolished in around 2013–14, in preparation for construction of the 2nd phase of Terminal 2, scheduled for completion in 2019. There are no plans to re-use the Terminal 1 name.

Terminal 2 (under construction)

Heathrow's current major project is the construction of a vast new Terminal 2. Formerly known as Heathrow East Terminal, the whole project will occupy a site similar in size to that of Terminal 5.

Old Terminal 2

The building previously known as Terminal 2 had been Heathrow's oldest terminal, opening as the Europa Building in 1955, and closing on 23 November 2009. Air France
Air France
Air France , stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, , and is one of the world's largest airlines. It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance...

 flight AF1881 to Paris was the last flight to depart from the terminal. It had an area of 49,654m2 and in its lifetime saw 316 million passengers pass through its doors. Originally designed to handle around 1.2 million passengers annually, in its final years of operation it often accommodated around 8 million. Despite the best efforts of maintenance staff and various renovations and upgrades over the years, the building became increasingly decrepit and unserviceable and was demolished in the Summer of 2010. The resulting space has been combined with an adjacent area (where the Queen's Building stood until its demolition in 2009) to form the site for the new terminal.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 opened as The Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes. 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 walkway
Moving walkway
A moving walkway or moving sidewalk is a slow moving conveyor mechanism that transports people, across a horizontal...

s. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed in order to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines Limited is the flag carrier airline of Singapore. Singapore Airlines operates a hub at Changi Airport and has a strong presence in the Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and "Kangaroo Route" markets...

, Emirates
Emirates Airline
Emirates is the airline based in the Emirate of Dubai part of the United Arab Emirates . Based at Dubai International Airport it is the largest airline in the Middle East, operating over 2,400 flights per week, from its hub at Terminal 3, to 111 cities in 62 countries across six continents...

 and Qantas
Qantas
Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia. The name was originally "QANTAS", an initialism for "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services". Nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo", the airline is based in Sydney, with its main hub at Sydney Airport...

 now operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380. Terminal 3 has an area of 98,962m2.
Redevelopment of Terminal 3's forecourt through 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' experiences, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited is a British airline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines...

 were assigned their own dedicated check-in area, known as 'Zone A', which features a large sculpture and atrium. BAA also has plans for a £1bn upgrade of the rest of the terminal over the next ten years which will include the renovation of aircraft piers and the arrivals forecourt. A new baggage system connecting to Terminal 5 (for British Airways connections) is currently under construction. In addition to the baggage system, the baggage claim hall is also set to undergo changes with dedicated A380 belts and an improved design and layout.

Terminal 4

First opened in 1986, Terminal 4 is situated to the south of the southern runway next to the cargo terminal, and is connected to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 by the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel
Heathrow Cargo Tunnel
The Heathrow Cargo Tunnel is a road tunnel in the London Borough of Hillingdon, London, UK that serves London Heathrow Airport.-History:In December 1968, the tunnel first opened, to connect Terminals 1, 2 and 3 to the newly opened cargo terminal at Heathrow, and it cost £2 million to build...

. The terminal has an area of 105,481m2 and is now home to the SkyTeam
SkyTeam
SkyTeam, branded as SKYTEAM, is an airline alliance with its centralised management team, SkyTeam Central, based at the World Trade Center Schiphol Airport on the grounds of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands...

 alliance as well as some unaffiliated carriers. It has recently undergone a £200m upgrade to enable it to accommodate 45 airlines with an upgraded forecourt to reduce traffic congestion and improve security. An extended check-in area with renovated piers and departure lounges as well as two new stands to accommodate the Airbus A380 have been constructed, and a new baggage system installed.

Terminal 5

Terminal 5 lies between the northern and southern runways at the west end of the Heathrow site, and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008, some 19 years after its inception. Opened to the public on 27 March 2008, the first passenger to enter Terminal 5 was a UK ex-pat from Kenya who passed through security at 04:30 on the day to be 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. Terminal 5 is exclusively used by British Airways as their global hub.

Built at a cost of £4.3 billion, the new terminal consists of a four storey main terminal building (Concourse A) and two satellite buildings linked to the main terminal by an underground people mover
People mover
A people mover or automated people mover is a fully automated, grade-separated mass transit system.The term is generally used only to describe systems serving relatively small areas such as airports, downtown districts or theme parks, but is sometimes applied to considerably more complex automated...

 transit system. The second satellite (Concourse C), includes dedicated aircraft stands for the Airbus A380. It became fully operational on 1 June 2011.

The main terminal building (Concourse A) has an area of 300000 square metres (3,229,173.1 sq ft) while Concourse B covers 60000 square metres (645,834.6 sq ft). It has 60 aircraft stands and capacity for 30 million passengers annually as well as more than 100 shops and restaurants.

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 newly combined business will require accommodation at Heathrow under one roof in order 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
Spur route
A spur route is a short road forming a branch from a longer, more important route . A bypass or beltway is never considered a true spur route as it typically reconnects with the major road...

 links the M25 between junctions 14 and 15 to the terminal, which includes a 3,800 space multi-storey car park
Multi-storey car park
A multi-storey car-park is a building designed specifically to be for car parking and where there are a number of floors or levels on which parking takes place...

. A more distant long-stay car park for business passengers will be connected to the terminal by a personal rapid transit
Personal rapid transit
Personal rapid transit , also called podcar, is a public transportation mode featuring small automated vehicles operating on a network of specially built guide ways...

 system, which will become operational in Spring 2011. New branches of both the Heathrow Express
Heathrow Express
Heathrow Express is an airport rail link from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station in London operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Authority, a wholly owned subsidiary of BAA. It was opened by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998...

 and the Underground's Piccadilly Line serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 station
Heathrow Terminal 5 station
Heathrow Terminal 5 station is a shared railway station at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 which was opened on 27 March 2008. It was designed by architects HOK International in conjunction with Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners....

.

Airlines and destinations

Terminal rearrangements

Following the opening of Terminal 5 in March 2008, a hugely complex programme of terminal moves has been implemented. This has seen many airlines move so as to be grouped in terminals by airline alliance
Airline alliance
An airline alliance is an agreement between two or more airlines to cooperate on a substantial level. The three largest passenger alliances are the Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld. Alliances also form between cargo airlines, such as that of WOW Alliance, SkyTeam Cargo and ANA/UPS Alliance...

 as far as possible:
  • Terminal 1: Star Alliance – plus a few non-aligned airlines
  • Terminal 3: Oneworld – plus Virgin Atlantic and several other non-aligned airlines as well as Star Alliance members not based in Terminal 1
  • Terminal 4: SkyTeam – and all other non-aligned airlines
  • Terminal 5: British Airways


Further moves are dependent on the airport's significant construction schedule but will broadly be as follows:
  • In January 2014:
    • All Star Alliance airlines will move into Phase 1 of the new Terminal 2
    • Terminal 1 will be gradually demolished to make way for Phase 2 of the new Terminal 2
  • In early 2019:
    • Phase 2 of the new Terminal 2 will open, enabling further moves to relieve pressure on Terminal 3

Cargo

Other facilities

The head office of BAA Limited is located in the Compass Centre
Compass Centre
Compass Centre is an office building on the grounds of London Heathrow Airport in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The building serves as BAA Limited's head office...

 by Heathrow's northern runway, a building that previously served as a British Airways flight crew centre. The World Business Centre Heathrow consists of buildings one and two. 1 World Business Centre houses offices of BAA Limited, Heathrow Airport, and Scandinavian Airlines. International Airlines Group
International Airlines Group
International Airlines Group is a multinational airline holding company headquartered in London, United Kingdom and with its registered office in Madrid, Spain...

 has its head office in 2 World Business Centre.

At one time, the British Airways head office, was located within Heathrow Airport at Speedbird House before the completion of Waterside
Waterside (building)
The Waterside building in Harmondsworth, London, is the international head office of British Airways. The building, which cost £200 million, is located on Harmondsworth Moor, northwest of Heathrow Airport, between the M4 and the M25 motorways...

, the current BA head office in Harmondsworth
Harmondsworth
Harmondsworth is a village in the London Borough of Hillingdon, close to London Heathrow Airport. The village is situated south of West Drayton.The nearest places are: Hayes, Harlington, Heathrow Airport, Longford, London, Sipson, West Drayton and Yiewsley....

, in June 1998.

Traffic and statistics

Although BAA claims that Heathrow is the "world's busiest international airport", in 2010 it ranked fourth-busiest
World's busiest airports by passenger traffic
The world's busiest airports by passenger traffic are measured by number of total passengers . One passenger is described as someone who arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport on a given day...

 by total passenger traffic, after Atlanta
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport , known locally as Atlanta Airport, Hartsfield Airport, and Hartsfield–Jackson, is located seven miles south of the central business district of Atlanta, Georgia, United States...

, Beijing
Beijing Capital International Airport
Beijing Capital International Airport, is the main international airport serving Beijing, China. It is located northeast of Beijing's city center in an enclave of Chaoyang District that is surrounded by rural Shunyi District. The airport is owned and operated by the Beijing Capital...

 and Chicago O'Hare
O'Hare International Airport
Chicago O'Hare International Airport , also known as O'Hare Airport, O'Hare Field, Chicago Airport, Chicago International Airport, or simply O'Hare, is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, United States, northwest of the Chicago Loop...

 which are all international airports. However, Heathrow does have the highest number of international passengers
World's busiest airports by international passenger traffic
The following is a list of the world's busiest airports by international passenger traffic.London Heathrow has been the busiest since 2000-2010 year-to-date statistics:Airports Council International's year-to-date figures are as follows....

.

In 2010, Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe in terms of total passenger traffic, with 13.2% more passengers than Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and 24.3% more than Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport may refer to:Airports of Frankfurt, Germany:*Frankfurt Airport , the largest airport in Germany*Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport, a general aviation airport*Frankfurt-Hahn Airport , a converted U.S...

, However, it was in second place behind Charles de Gaulle in terms of total aircraft movements in 2009 with 11.2% fewer landings and take offs than its French counterpart. Heathrow was the third busiest European airport by cargo traffic in 2009, after Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.
EWLINE
Busiest international routes at Heathrow (2010)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % Change
2009 / 10
1  New York City – JFK
John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport is an international airport located in the borough of Queens in New York City, about southeast of Lower Manhattan. It is the busiest international air passenger gateway to the United States, handling more international traffic than any other airport in North...

2,517,896 2
2  Dubai
Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport is an international airport serving Dubai, the largest city of the United Arab Emirates. It is a major aviation hub in the Middle East, and is the main airport of Dubai. It is situated in the Al Garhoud district, southeast of Dubai...

1,787,561 3
3 Dublin
Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport, , is operated by the Dublin Airport Authority. Located in Collinstown, in the Fingal part of County Dublin, 18.4 million passengers passed through the airport in 2010, making it the busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland, followed by Cork and Shannon...

1,493,613 8
4  Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport is the main airport in Hong Kong. It is colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport , being built on the island of Chek Lap Kok by land reclamation, and also to distinguish it from its predecessor, the closed Kai Tak Airport.The airport opened for commercial...

1,386,779 9
5  Amsterdam 1,333,124 12
6  Paris – CDG 1,299,701 3
7  Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport may refer to:Airports of Frankfurt, Germany:*Frankfurt Airport , the largest airport in Germany*Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport, a general aviation airport*Frankfurt-Hahn Airport , a converted U.S...

1,266,240 5
8  Los Angeles
Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. It is most often referred to by its IATA airport code LAX, with the letters pronounced individually...

1,189,309 4
9  Chicago – O'Hare
O'Hare International Airport
Chicago O'Hare International Airport , also known as O'Hare Airport, O'Hare Field, Chicago Airport, Chicago International Airport, or simply O'Hare, is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, United States, northwest of the Chicago Loop...

1,138,012 7
10  Madrid 1,093,538 3
11  Newark
Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport , first named Newark Metropolitan Airport and later Newark International Airport, is an international airport within the city limits of both Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States...

1,091,818 9
12  Rome – Fiumicino 1,032,872 9
13  Singapore
Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore Changi Airport , Changi International Airport, or simply Changi Airport, is the main airport in Singapore. A major aviation hub in Southeast Asia, it is about north-east from the commercial centre in Changi, on a site....

1,022,220 9
14  Munich 975,465 7
15  Mumbai 957,439 11
16  Toronto – Pearson
Toronto Pearson International Airport
Toronto Pearson International Airport is an international airport serving Toronto, Ontario, Canada; its metropolitan area; and the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration that is home to 8.1 million people – approximately 25% of Canada's population...

940,448 7
17  Washington – Dulles 920,514 9
18  Stockholm – Arlanda
Stockholm-Arlanda Airport
Stockholm Arlanda Airport , is an international airport located in the Sigtuna Municipality of Sweden, near the town of Märsta, north of Stockholm and nearly , by road, south-east of Uppsala....

912,362 2
19  Istanbul – Atatürk
Atatürk International Airport
Atatürk International Airport is the major international airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Opened in 1924 and located in Yeşilköy, on the European side of the city, it is west of the city centre. In 1980, the airport was renamed to Atatürk International Airport in honor of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the...

905,002 11
20  Delhi
Indira Gandhi International Airport
Indira Gandhi International Airport is the primary international airport of the National Capital Region of Delhi, India, situated in West Delhi, 16 km southwest of New Delhi city centre. Named after Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, it is the busiest airport in India in...

893,196 21
21  Johannesburg 886,146 4
22  Zurich 876,385 1
23  Copenhagen
Copenhagen Airport
Copenhagen Airport is the main international airport serving Copenhagen, Denmark and the Oresund Region. It is located on the island of Amager, south of Copenhagen city centre, and west of Malmö city centre on the other side of the Oresund Bridge. The airport lies mainly in the municipality...

870,072 2
24  Boston
Logan International Airport
General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport is located in the East Boston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts . It covers , has six runways, and employs an estimated 16,000 people. It is the 19th busiest airport in the United States.Boston serves as a focus city for JetBlue Airways...

866,719 2
25  San Francisco
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is a major international airport located south of downtown San Francisco, California, United States, near the cities of Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. It is often referred to as SFO...

860,617 4
26  Geneva 859,143 42
27  Miami
Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport , also known as MIA and historically Wilcox Field, is the primary airport serving the South Florida area...

822,315 3
28  Athens 784,308 18
29  Vienna
Vienna International Airport
Vienna International Airport , located in Schwechat and southeast of central Vienna, is the busiest and biggest airport in Austria. It is often referred to as Schwechat, the name of the county it is in. The airport is capable of handling wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340...

731,100 13
30  Lisbon 727,335 4
31  Sydney
Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport may refer to:* Sydney Airport, also known as Kingsford Smith International Airport, in Sydney, Australia* Sydney/J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport, in Nova Scotia, Canada...

696,301 6
32  Tokyo – Narita
Narita International Airport
is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. It is located east of Tokyo Station and east-southeast of Narita Station in the city of Narita, and the adjacent town of Shibayama....

683,186 9
33  Milan – Linate
Linate Airport
Linate Airport is one of the three major airports of Milan, Italy, along with Malpensa Airport and Orio al Serio Airport. Due to its closer proximity to Milan—it is east southeast of the city, compared with Malpensa, which is northwest of the city—it is mainly used for domestic and short-haul...

647,636 16
34  Doha
Doha International Airport
Doha International Airport is the only commercial airport in Qatar. It has three mosques, free Wi-Fi, a duty-free area, a few eateries and 42 parking bays for aircraft. There are also 60 check-in gates, 8 baggage claim belts and over 1,000 car parking spaces.The airport suffers from...

640,528 10
35  Barcelona 605,989 16
36  Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi
Suvarnabhumi Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport , also known as Bangkok International Airport, is an international airport serving Bangkok, Thailand. It was officially opened for limited domestic flight service on 15 September 2006, and opened for most domestic and all international commercial flights on 28 September...

597,826 0.5
37  Berlin – Tegel 596,543 16
38  Oslo
Oslo Airport, Gardermoen
Oslo Airport, Gardermoen is the principal airport serving Oslo, Norway. It acts as the main domestic hub and international airport for Norway, and the second-busiest airport in the Nordic countries. A hub for Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle, and a focus city for Widerøe, it is...

592,477 3
39  Helsinki
Helsinki Airport
Helsinki Airport or Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is the main international airport of the Helsinki metropolitan region and the whole of Finland. It is located in Vantaa, Finland, about west of Tikkurila, the centre of Vantaa, and north of Helsinki city centre...

578,543 3
40  Houston – Intercontinental
George Bush Intercontinental Airport
George Bush Intercontinental Airport, is a Class B international airport in Houston, Texas, serving the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Located north of Downtown Houston between Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 59...

541,632 1
Countries with maximum passengers to/from Heathrow (2010)
Rank Country/Region Passengers handled % Change
2009 / 10
1  United States 12,340,933 0.03
2  Germany 4,341,214 7.57
3  Italy 2,377,026 12.00
4  Canada 2,354,965 4.07
5  United Arab Emirates 2,291,338 0.91
6  India 2,283,731 3.22
7  Republic of Ireland 2,156,503 3.77
8  France 2,138,519 1.81
9  Spain 2,127,872 5.24
10  Switzerland 1,896,859 14.47
11  Hong Kong 1,386,779 9.29
12  South Africa 1,378,268 6.95
13  Netherlands 1,333,124 11.70
14  Sweden 1,058,134 2.01
15  Turkey 1,046,910 7.86
16  Australia 1,030,619 1.34
17  Singapore 1,022,220 9.01
18  Denmark 870,104 1.90
19  Russia 747,425 13.93
20  Portugal 746,946 2.78

Train

  • Heathrow Express
    Heathrow Express
    Heathrow Express is an airport rail link from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station in London operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Authority, a wholly owned subsidiary of BAA. It was opened by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998...

    : a non-stop service directly to London's Paddington station; trains leave every 15 minutes for the 15-minute journey (21 minutes to/from Terminal 5). Trains depart from Heathrow Terminal 5 station
    Heathrow Terminal 5 station
    Heathrow Terminal 5 station is a shared railway station at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 which was opened on 27 March 2008. It was designed by architects HOK International in conjunction with Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners....

     or Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1 & 3). A Heathrow Express transfer service operates between Terminal 4 and Heathrow Central to connect with services from London and Terminal 5.
  • Heathrow Connect
    Heathrow Connect
    Heathrow Connect is a train operating company in London provided jointly by Heathrow Express and First Great Western, connecting Heathrow Airport with station. The service follows the same route as the Heathrow Express service but serves intermediate stations en route, thus connecting several...

    : a stopping service to Paddington calling at up to five National Rail
    National Rail
    National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

     stations en route – trains leave every 30 minutes for the 27-minute journey. Heathrow Connect services terminate at Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1 & 3).
  • London Underground
    London Underground
    The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

     Piccadilly line
    Piccadilly Line
    The Piccadilly line is a line of the London Underground, coloured dark blue on the Tube map. It is the fifth busiest line on the Underground network judged by the number of passengers transported per year. It is mainly a deep-level line, running from the north to the west of London via Zone 1, with...

    : four tube stations serve the airport – Terminals 1, 2, 3; Terminal 4
    Heathrow Terminal 4 tube station
    Heathrow Terminal 4 is a London Underground station at Heathrow Airport on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line. The station is situated in Travelcard Zone 6.The station opened on the 12 April 1986 to serve the then recently opened Heathrow Terminal 4...

    ; Terminal 5 serves the passenger terminals, and Hatton Cross
    Hatton Cross tube station
    Hatton Cross tube station is on the Heathrow branch of the London Underground Piccadilly line. It is in Travelcard Zones 5 and 6 and stands between the Great South West Road and the Heathrow Airport Southern Perimeter Road....

     the maintenance areas. The standard journey time from Heathrow Terminals 1 & 3 tube station to Central London is around 40–50 minutes.

Bus and coach

Many buses and coaches operate from the large Heathrow airport central bus station
Heathrow Airport Central bus station
Heathrow Airport Central bus station serves Heathrow Airport, Greater London, England.The bus station provides local bus and long distance coach services. It is located between Terminals 1 and 3 is open 24 hours...

 serving Terminals 1 and 3, and also from bus stations at Terminals 4 and 5. Services include the following:
  • Long-distance coach services operated by National Express and Oxford Bus Company
    Oxford Bus Company
    Oxford Bus Company is a bus operator serving the city and surrounding area of Oxford, England and is the trading name of City of Oxford Motor Services Ltd. It is now a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group...

     to various parts of the UK, including Victoria Coach Station
    Victoria Coach Station
    Victoria Coach Station is the largest and most significant coach station in London. It serves long distance coach services and is also the departure point for many countryside coach tours originating from London. It should not be confused with the nearby Green Line Coach Station serving Green Line...

     in London
  • HotelHoppa
    National Express Hotel Hoppa
    Hotel Hoppa is a network of bus services owned and operated by National Express Group, connecting major hotels near Heathrow Airport with Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and the new Terminal 5...

     buses connect each terminal with hotels in the Heathrow area
  • There are two RailAir
    RailAir
    RailAir, Railair or Rail Air describes a number of airport bus and coach services designed to connect the National Rail network to airports in the United Kingdom. Services are currently concentrated on London Heathrow Airport, with one other from London Luton Airport...

     coach services connecting nearby railway stations with the airport using dedicated non-stop coaches and running to:
    • Reading railway station
      Reading railway station
      Reading railway station is a major rail transport hub in the English town of Reading. It is situated on the northern edge of the town centre, close to the main retail and commercial areas, and also the River Thames...

      , connecting with railway services to the West Country
      West Country
      The West Country is an informal term for the area of south western England roughly corresponding to the modern South West England government region. It is often defined to encompass the historic counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset and the City of Bristol, while the counties of...

      , South Wales
      South Wales
      South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

      , Midlands
      English Midlands
      The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...

       and the south coast of England
    • Woking railway station
      Woking railway station
      Woking railway station is a railway station in England, serving the town of Woking, Surrey. It is a major stop on the South Western Main Line and is used by many commuters...

      , for destinations in Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire
    • A connection to Feltham railway station
      Feltham railway station
      Feltham railway station is in Feltham, in the London Borough of Hounslow. It was opened in 1848 by the Windsor Staines and South Western Railway . It is in Travelcard Zone 6. A regular bus service runs from Feltham to Heathrow Airport.-Facilities:A footbridge in the station with lifts connects the...

      , for Richmond, Camberley, Bracknell, London Waterloo and Clapham Junction, using London Buses route 285
      London Buses route 285
      London Buses route 285 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, United Kingdom. The service is currently contracted to London United.-History:...

       (route 490 from Terminals 4 and 5)
  • Express bus services to Watford, St Albans and Harlow (Green Line route 724
    Green Line route 724
    Green Line route 724 is a high-profile limited-stop express bus service, currently operated by Arriva Shires & Essex as part of the large Green Line Coaches network. It operates between Harlow and Heathrow Airport, and is partly funded by airport operator BAA...

    ), Croydon (London Buses route X26
    London Buses route X26
    London Buses route X26 is a Transport for London contracted bus route from Heathrow Airport to West Croydon. The service is currently contracted to Metrobus.The route is the longest London Buses route in London.-History:...

    ) and High Wycombe (Carousel Buses
    Carousel Buses
    Carousel Buses is an independent bus company based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England which operates a network of local and inter-urban bus services.-History:Carousel Buses was formed in 2000...

    )
  • Local bus services by London Buses, First Berkshire & The Thames Valley
    First Berkshire & The Thames Valley
    First Berkshire & The Thames Valley is a bus operator serving Bracknell, Slough and Wokingham, in England. It is part of First Group, a major bus and train operator with a turnover of nearly £2.5 billion a year and 62,000 employees across the UK and North America...

     and other companies to nearby towns and London suburbs
  • Night bus N9 operates to central London at night when the trains do not operate


Between 1981 and 2004, the airport was linked to central London by a group of routes known as Airbus. These routes carried A prefixes before their numbers; one route, A10, operates with such a number to Uxbridge
Uxbridge
Uxbridge is a large town located in north west London, England and is the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon. It forms part of the ceremonial county of Greater London. It is located west-northwest of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres...

.

Inter-terminal transport

Terminals 1 and 3 are within walking distance of each other. Transfers to Terminal 4 & 5 are by Heathrow Express
Heathrow Express
Heathrow Express is an airport rail link from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station in London operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Authority, a wholly owned subsidiary of BAA. It was opened by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998...

 trains or bus. Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services between Heathrow Central and Terminals 4 and 5 are free of charge. Normal fare rules apply to London Underground services between terminals. Local buses throughout the airport area are provided free of charge under the "Heathrow FreeFlow" scheme; passengers should tell the driver their destination to ensure they are not charged a fare.

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

ULTra Personal Rapid Transport
ULTra
ULTra is a personal rapid transit system developed by ULTra PRT,...

 has been opened in April 2011 to shuttle passengers to and from Terminal 5 at a speed of up to 40 km/h. The initial trial will have 18 pods running. ULTra are small transportation pods that can fit four adults, two children, and their luggage and will be able to carry passengers directly to the terminal. The pods are battery powered and will be initially used on a four kilometre track. If the trial is successful there are plans for a roll out airport wide. The capsules run on demand. The provider claims a 95% availability rate and no accidents so far.

Car

Heathrow is accessible via the nearby M4 motorway
M4 motorway
The M4 motorway links London with South Wales. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Other major places directly accessible from M4 junctions are Reading, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea...

 and A4 road (Terminals 1–3), the M25 motorway
M25 motorway
The M25 motorway, or London Orbital, is a orbital motorway that almost encircles Greater London, England, in the United Kingdom. The motorway was first mooted early in the 20th century. A few sections, based on the now abandoned London Ringways plan, were constructed in the early 1970s and it ...

 (Terminals 4 and 5), and the A30 road
A30 road
The 284 miles A30 road from London to Land's End, historically known as the Great South West Road used to provide the most direct route from London to the south west; more recently the M3 motorway and A303 road performs this function for much of the route and only parts of A30 now retain trunk...

 (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 just outside the airport, the most recognisable is the National Car Parks
National Car Parks
National Car Parks is the United Kingdom’s largest private car park operator, with over 200,000 spaces across more than 700 locations in towns and cities, railway stations and at airports....

 facility although there are many other options; these car parks 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 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 the alternative.

Bicycle

There are (mainly off-road) bicycle routes to some of the terminals. 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.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 3 March 1948, Sabena Douglas DC3 Dakota OO-AWH crashed in fog. Three crew and 19 of the 22 passengers on board died.
  • On 31 October 1950, BEA
    British European Airways
    British European Airways or British European Airways Corporation was a British airline which existed from 1946 until 1974. The airline operated European and North African routes from airports around the United Kingdom...

     Vickers Viking
    Vickers VC.1 Viking
    The Vickers VC.1 Viking was a British twin-engine short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber and built by Vickers Armstrongs Limited at Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Viking was an important airliner with British airlines...

     G-AHPN crashed at Heathrow after hitting the runway during a go-around. Three crew and 25 passengers died.
  • On 1 August 1956, XA897, an Avro Vulcan
    Avro Vulcan
    The Avro Vulcan, sometimes referred to as the Hawker Siddeley Vulcan, was a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber, operated by the Royal Air Force from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced,...

     strategic bomber of the Royal Air Force
    Royal Air Force
    The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

    , crashed at Heathrow after an approach in bad weather. The Vulcan was the first to be delivered to the RAF, and was returning from a demonstration flight to Australia and New Zealand. The pilot and co-pilot ejected and survived, but the four other occupants were killed.
  • On 7 January 1960, Vickers Viscount
    Vickers Viscount
    The Vickers Viscount was a British medium-range turboprop airliner first flown in 1948 by Vickers-Armstrongs, making it the first such aircraft to enter service in the world...

     G-AOHU of BEA was damaged beyond economic repair when the nose wheel collapsed on landing. A fire then developed and burnt out the fuselage. There were no casualties among the 59 people on board.
  • On 27 October 1965, BEA Vickers Vanguard G-APEE, flying from Edinburgh, crashed on Runway 28R while attempting to land in poor visibility. All 30 passengers and six crew on board died.
  • On 8 April 1968, BOAC Flight 712
    BOAC Flight 712
    BOAC Flight 712 for Monday 8 April 1968 was a British Overseas Airways Corporation service operated by a Boeing 707-465 from London Heathrow Airport bound for Sydney via Kloten, Zürich and Singapore, which suffered an engine failure at takeoff that quickly led to a major fire. The engine fell...

     Boeing 707 G-ARWE, departing for Australia via Singapore, suffered an engine fire just after take-off. The engine fell from the wing into a nearby gravel pit in Staines
    Staines
    Staines is a Thames-side town in the Spelthorne borough of Surrey and Greater London Urban Area, as well as the London Commuter Belt of South East England. It is a suburban development within the western bounds of the M25 motorway and located 17 miles west south-west of Charing Cross in...

    , before the plane managed to perform an emergency landing with the wing on fire. However, the plane was consumed by fire once on the ground. Five people; four passengers and a stewardess – died, while 122 survived. Barbara Harrison
    Barbara Jane Harrison
    Barbara Jane Harrison, GC , was a British air stewardess. She is one of four women to have been awarded the George Cross for heroism, and the only one of the four not to have served with the Special Operations Executive in occupied France during the Second World War...

    , a flight attendant on board who helped with the evacuation, was posthumously awarded the George Cross
    George Cross
    The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

    .
  • On 3 July 1968, the port flap operating rod of G-AMAD
    1968 BKS Air Transport Heathrow crash
    On 3 July 1968 an Airspeed Ambassador of BKS Air Transport, registration G-AMAD, crashed at London Heathrow Airport, damaging two parked Trident airliners as it cartwheeled into the uncompleted London Heathrow Terminal 1, then under construction...

    , an Airspeed Ambassador
    Airspeed Ambassador
    The Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador was a British twin piston engined airliner that first flew on 10 July 1947 and served in small numbers through the 1950s and 1960s.-Design and development:...

     operated by BKS Air Transport failed due to fatigue thereby allowing the port flaps to retract. This resulted in a rolling moment to port which could not be controlled during the approach, causing the aircraft to contact the grass and swerve towards the terminal building. It hit two parked British European Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident
    Hawker Siddeley Trident
    The Hawker Siddeley HS 121 Trident was a British short/medium-range three-engined jet airliner designed by de Havilland and built by Hawker Siddeley in the 1960s and 1970s...

     aircraft, burst into flames and came to rest against the ground floor of the terminal building. Six of the eight crew died, as did eight horses on board. Trident G-ARPT was written off, and Trident G-ARPI was badly damaged, but subsequently repaired, only to be lost in the Staines crash in 1972.
  • On 22 January 1970, Vickers Viscount
    Vickers Viscount
    The Vickers Viscount was a British medium-range turboprop airliner first flown in 1948 by Vickers-Armstrongs, making it the first such aircraft to enter service in the world...

     G-AWXI of British Midland was damaged beyond economic repair when an engine caught fire on take-off. A successful emergency landing was made at Heathrow.
  • On 18 June 1972, Trident G-ARPI, operating as BEA548
    British European Airways Flight 548
    British European Airways Flight 548 was a Hawker Siddeley Trident 1C airliner, registration G-ARPI, operating as a British European Airways scheduled commercial passenger flight from London Heathrow Airport to Brussels, Belgium...

    , crashed in a field close to the Crooked Billet Public House, Staines, two minutes after taking off. All 118 passengers and crew on board died.

  • On 5 November 1997, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-300, G-VSKY, made an emergency landing following an undercarriage malfunction. Part of the undercarriage collapsed on landing, and both aircraft and runway were damaged. Recommendations made as a result of the accident included one that aircraft cabin door simulators should more accurately reproduce operating characteristics in an emergency, and another that cockpit voice recorder
    Cockpit voice recorder
    A cockpit voice recorder , often referred to as a "black box", is a flight recorder used to record the audio environment in the flight deck of an aircraft for the purpose of investigation of accidents and incidents...

    s should have a two-hour duration in aircraft registered before April 1998.
  • On 17 January 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777-236ER
    Boeing 777
    The Boeing 777 is a long-range, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It is the world's largest twinjet and is commonly referred to as the "Triple Seven". The aircraft has seating for over 300 passengers and has a range from , depending on model...

    , G-YMMM, operating flight BA038
    British Airways Flight 38
    British Airways Flight 38 was a scheduled flight from Beijing Capital International Airport which crash landed just short of the runway at its destination, London Heathrow Airport, on 17 January 2008 after an flight. There were no fatalities, but 47 people sustained injuries...

     from Beijing, crash-landed at Heathrow. The aircraft landed on grass short of the south runway, then slid to the edge of the runway and stopped on the threshold, leading to eighteen minor injuries. The aircraft was later found to have suffered loss of thrust caused by fuel icing.

Terrorism and security incidents

  • On 8 June 1968, James Earl Ray
    James Earl Ray
    James Earl Ray was an American criminal convicted of the assassination of civil rights and anti-war activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr....

    , the man convicted of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

    , was captured and arrested at Heathrow Airport while attempting to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport.
  • On 19 May 1974, the IRA
    Provisional Irish Republican Army
    The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

     planted a series of bombs in the Terminal 1 car park. Two people were injured by the explosions.
  • On 26 November 1983, the Brink's-MAT robbery
    Brink's-MAT robbery
    The Brink's-MAT robbery occurred on 26 November 1983 when six robbers broke into the Brink's-MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport, London. The robbers thought they were going to steal £3 million in cash; however, when they arrived, they found three tonnes of gold bullion...

     occurred, in which 6,800 gold bars worth nearly £26 million were taken from a vault near Heathrow. Only a fraction of the gold was ever recovered, and only two men were convicted of the crime.
  • On 17 April 1986, semtex
    Semtex
    Semtex is a general-purpose plastic explosive containing RDX and PETN. It is used in commercial blasting, demolition, and in certain military applications. Semtex became notoriously popular with terrorists because it was, until recently, extremely difficult to detect, as in the case of Pan Am...

     explosives were found in the bag of a pregnant Irishwoman attempting to board an El Al
    El Al
    El Al Israel Airlines Ltd , trading as El Al , is the flag carrier of Israel. It operates scheduled domestic and international services and cargo flights to Europe, North America, Africa and the Far East from its main base in Ben Gurion International Airport...

     flight. The explosives had been given to her by her Jordanian boyfriend and father of their unborn child Nizar Hindawi
    Nizar Hindawi
    Nezar Nawwaf al-Mansur al-Hindawi is a Jordanian who was found guilty of attempting to place a bomb on an El Al flight in Heathrow airport, London on April 17, 1986. Hindawi packed the bomb into the carry-on bag of his pregnant Irish fiancée, Anne Mary Murphy. The bomb was found by El Al security...

    . The incident became known as the Hindawi Affair
    Hindawi Affair
    The Hindawi affair was the attempted bombing of an El Al flight from London to Tel Aviv in April 1986 and its international repercussions.On the morning of April 17, 1986, at Heathrow Airport in London, Israeli security guards working for El Al airlines found 1.5 kilograms of Semtex explosives in a...

    .
  • On 21 December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103
    Pan Am Flight 103
    Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport...

     from Heathrow to New York/JFK was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 other people on the ground.
  • In 1994, over a six-day period, Heathrow was targeted three times (8, 10, and 13 March) by the IRA
    Provisional Irish Republican Army
    The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

    , who fired 12 mortars. Heathrow was a symbolic target due to its importance to the UK economy, and much disruption was caused when areas of the airport were closed over the period. The gravity of the incident was heightened by the fact that the Queen was being flown back to Heathrow by the RAF on 10 March.
  • In March 2002, thieves stole US$3 million that had arrived on a South African Airways
    South African Airways
    South African Airways is the national flag carrier and largest airline of South Africa, with headquarters in Airways Park on the grounds of OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. The airline flies to 36 destinations worldwide from its hub at OR Tambo International...

     flight.
  • In February 2003, the British Army
    British Army
    The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

     was deployed to Heathrow, along with 1,000 police officers, in response to intelligence reports suggesting that al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

     terrorists might launch surface-to-air missile
    Surface-to-air missile
    A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

     attacks at British or American airliners.
  • On 17 May 2004, Scotland Yard's Flying Squad
    Flying Squad
    The Flying Squad is a branch of the Specialist Crime Directorate, within London's Metropolitan Police Service. The Squad's purpose is to investigate commercial armed robberies, along with the prevention and investigation of other serious armed crime...

     foiled an attempt by seven men to steal £40 million in gold bullion and a similar quantity of cash from the Swissport
    Swissport
    Swissport International Ltd. is a Swiss company headquartered in Glattbrugg, Opfikon, Switzerland. Owned by PAI, Swissport International Ltd. provides ground services for around 100 million passengers and 3.2 million tonnes of cargo a year on behalf of some 650 client-companies in the aviation...

     warehouse at Heathrow.
  • On 10 August 2006, the airport became the focus of changes in security protocol, following the revelation of a supposed al-Qaeda terrorist plot
    2006 transatlantic aircraft plot
    The 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot was a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives carried on board at least 10 airliners travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada...

    . New security rules were put in force immediately, causing additional but essential restrictions in regards to carrying liquids on board flights. This caused longer queues and wait times at security. These included the prohibition of carry-on luggage (except essential items such as travel documents and medication) and all liquids – although this rule was later relaxed to allow the carrying on board of liquid medications and baby milk, provided that they were tasted first by passengers at the security checkpoint.
  • On 25 February 2008, Greenpeace
    Greenpeace
    Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

     activists protesting against the planned third runway managed to cross the tarmac and climb on top of a British Airways Airbus A320
    Airbus A320 family
    The Airbus A320 family is a family of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger jet airliners manufactured by Airbus Industrie.Airbus was originally a consortium of European aerospace companies, and is now fully owned by EADS. Airbus's name has been Airbus SAS since 2001...

    , which had just arrived from Manchester Airport. At about 09:45 GMT the protesters unveiled a banner, saying "Climate Emergency – No Third Runway", over the aircraft's tailfin. By 11:00 GMT four arrests had been made.
  • On 13 March 2008, a man with a rucksack scaled the perimeter fence onto runway 27R, and ran across the grounds, resulting in his subsequent arrest. A controlled explosion of his bag took place, although nothing suspicious was found, and the Metropolitan Police
    Metropolitan Police Service
    The Metropolitan Police Service is the territorial police force responsible for Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police...

     later said that the incident had not been terrorism related.

Other incidents

  • Flights from Heathrow were suspended from midday Thursday 15 April 2010 to 22:00 Tuesday 20 April 2010 due to risk of jet engines being damaged by volcanic ash in the upper atmosphere caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.
  • On 18 December 2010, 'heavy' (9 cm, according to the Heathrow Winter Resilience Enquiry ) snowfall caused the closure of the entire airport, causing one of the largest incidents at Heathrow of all time. 4,000 flights were cancelled over five days and 9,500 passengers spent the night at Heathrow on 18 December following the initial snowfall. The problems were caused not only by snow on the runways, but also by snow and ice on the 198 parking stands which were all occupied by aircraft.

Runway and terminal expansion

In January 2009 the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon
Geoff Hoon
Geoffrey "Geoff" William Hoon is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament for Ashfield from 1992 to 2010...

 announced that the UK government supports the expansion of Heathrow by building a third 2200 metres (7,217.8 ft) runway and a sixth terminal building. This decision follows the 2003 white paper on the future of air transport in the UK, and a public consultation in November 2007. This was a controversial decision which met with widespread opposition because of its greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of local communities, as well as noise and air pollution concerns.

Before the 2010 General Election the Conservative and Liberal Democrats 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, Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British journalist and Conservative Party politician, who has been the elected Mayor of London since 2008...

, has admitted that London needs more airport capacity but favours constructing an entirely new airport
Thames estuary airport
There have been plans since 1943 to build a new airport for London at various locations around the Thames Estuary.- Maplin :In April 1971 the government announced that a site at the Maplin Sands had been selected for the third London airport , and that planning would begin immediately...

 in the Thames Estuary
Thames Estuary
The Thames Mouth is the estuary in which the River Thames meets the waters of the North Sea.It is not easy to define the limits of the estuary, although physically the head of Sea Reach, near Canvey Island on the Essex shore is probably the western boundary...

 rather than expanding Heathrow. After the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition took power, it was announced that the third runway expansion was cancelled.

Heathrow railway hub

A plan to make Heathrow an international railway exchange has also been proposed with the potential construction of Heathrow Hub railway station
Heathrow Hub railway station
The Heathrow Hub is a proposed railway interchange to serve, principally, future High Speed 2 rail services for Heathrow Airport. It was part of a proposal put forward by global engineering, design and consulting firm Arup in 2008, as a means of extending the UK’s high speed rail network from...

, built on a link to the High Speed 2
High Speed 2
High Speed 2 is a proposed high-speed railway between London and the Midlands, the North of England, and potentially at a later stage the central belt of Scotland. The project is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a company established by the British government...

 railway line.

Airtrack

In July 2009, Heathrow Airport Limited submitted an application to the Secretary of State for Transport seeking to gain authorisation to develop a new rail link to Heathrow Terminal 5 to be known as Heathrow Airtrack
Heathrow Airtrack
Heathrow Airtrack is a proposed railway link in west London, England, UK. The line as proposed by BAA, would have run from into central London and across the suburbs of south-west London. BAA announced that it was abandoning the project in April 2011...

. The rail link would address the current lack of public transport available to the South West of the Airport by connecting to Guildford, Reading and London Waterloo. BAA state that the scheme should add significantly to their aim of increasing the proportion of people using public transport to travel to the Airport. In April 2011, BAA announced that it was abandoning the project, citing the unavailability of government subsidy and other priorities for Heathrow, such as linking to Crossrail
Crossrail
Crossrail is a project to build a major new railway link under central London. The name refers to the first of two routes which are the responsibility of Crossrail Ltd. It is based on an entirely new east-west tunnel with a central section from to Liverpool Street station...

 and HS2.

Heathrow/Gatwick Rail Link

The Department for Transport
Department for Transport
In the United Kingdom, the Department for Transport is the government department responsible for the English transport network and a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which are not devolved...

 is currently studying the possibility of a direct, high-speed rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.

See also



External links

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