London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport – better known merely as Heathrow – is the world’s third busiest airport, handling the most passenger traffic of any airport in the world (the first and second busiest are primarily freight airports). Spread across five terminals, Heathrow airport is huge, impressive and subject to much controversy.

Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, Heathrow sits on the far west of London city, very close to the London Circular (M25 motorway). The airport is owned by BAA, who also own six other UK airports, and serves as the primary hub of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and bmi. It deals with both domestic and international travel, ans is usually the airport used when welcoming foreign Heads of State for official visits.

Heathrow is spread out over five terminals, the last of which – Terminal Five – having only been introduced recently. Over 90 airlines use the airport, flying tourists and visitors to over 170 destinations worldwide. Since its inception in the early 20th century, Heathrow has continued to grow and develop in size, offering more flights, more space and more availability.

In 2006, it became one of the first airports to build a specially designed area to deal with the new Airbus A380. The latest Airbus was so large, few airports already had space to handle its massive wingspan; Heathrow ensured they could cater to the airplane had even gone into service. It was not until March 18th 2008 that the Airbus A380 flew into Heathrow, marking the start of the new route and airplane on its first European flight.

Further updating continued in 2007, within months of the Airbus’s Pier 6 being completed. A new central control tower was built, at a cost of L50 million. The new tower stands at 87 meters This, however, was a mere forerunner to Heathrow airport’s biggest update of all: the launch of Terminal Five.

London Heathrow AirportThe airport had been suffering from crowding issues for nearly a quarter of a century, and in 1982 the suggestion of fifth terminal was first mentioned. The project became known as T5, and was officially proposed and finalized in 1993, when official planning permission was requested.

A public inquiry then followed, lasting for nearly four years. Environmental protesters, in particular, were fervently against the expansion and numerous protests and clashes were carried out over the plans. The inquiry ending in 1999, but it was not until 2001 that Heathrow were given formal planning permission to build what was now referred to as ‘T5′.

Eventually, some 18 years after its initial inception, Terminal Five was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on March 15th 2008. The terminal was to cater purely to flights with carrier British Airways, the first of which was a 6.20am flight to Paris. However, huge problems with the baggage handling system were exposed at T5 immediately; some 28,000 bags were lost in the first 10 days. It was not until April 5th that a full schedule was able to run from Heathrow.

Despite the delays and the hiccups, Heathrow airport are not finished updating yet. In 2005, Heathrow announced that they would demolish Terminals 1 and 2, and replace them with a larger terminal known as the East Terminal. Planning permission was granted in 2007, and building began in early 2009. Onwards and upwards for the biggest and busiest airport on the planet.

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