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"Heathrow" and "LHR" redirect here. For other uses, see Heathrow (disambiguation) and LHR (disambiguation).
London Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Terminal 5 building
Airport type Public
Owner Heathrow Airport Holdings
Operator Heathrow Airport Limited
Location Hillingdon, London, United Kingdom
Hub for British Airways
Focus city for Air Canada
Elevation AMSL 83 ft / 25 m
Coordinates 51°28′39″N 000°27′41″W / 51.47750°N 0.46139°W / 51.47750; -0.46139Coordinates: 51°28′39″N 000°27′41″W / 51.47750°N 0.46139°W / 51.47750; -0.46139

Location within Greater London
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09L/27R 3,900 12,795 grooved asphalt
09R/27L 3,660 12,008 grooved asphalt
Statistics (2012)
Passengers 70,037,417 (Increase 0.9%)
Aircraft movements 475,176 (Decrease 1.2%)
Economic impact $16.2 billion[1]
Social impact 216.7 thousand[1]
Sources: UK AIP at NATS and EUROCONTROL[2]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[3]

London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow (IATA: LHRICAO: EGLL) is a major international airport serving London, England, known as London Airport from 1946 until 1965. Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in West London, Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world (as of 2012) in total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe.[4] It is also the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic and the third busiest by traffic movements, with a figure surpassed only by Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport.[5] Heathrow is London's main airport, having replaced RAF Northolt and the earlier Croydon Airport. The airport sustains 76,600 jobs directly and around 116,000 indirectly in the immediate area,[6] and this, together with the large number of global corporations with offices close to the airport, makes Heathrow a modern aerotropolis which contributes an estimated 2.7% to London's total GVA.

The airport is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which also owns and operates three other UK airports,[7] and is itself owned by FGP TopCo Limited, an international consortium, which includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and GIC Special Investments, that is led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group.[8] Heathrow is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic.

Heathrow lies 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) west[2] of Central London, and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers 3,000 acres (1,200 ha). Terminal 5 was officially dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II 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.[9] Terminals 3 and 4 underwent major refurbishments between 2007 and 2009. In November 2007, a consultation process began for the building of a new third runway and a sixth terminal, which was controversially[10] approved on 15 January 2009 by UK Government ministers.[11] The project was subsequently cancelled on 12 May 2010 by the Cameron Government.[12]

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.[13]


Heathrow is 14 mi (23 km) west of central London,[2] near the south end of the London Borough of Hillingdon on a parcel of land that is designated part of the Metropolitan Green Belt. The airport is surrounded by the built-up areas of Harlington, Harmondsworth, Longford and Cranford to the north and by Hounslow and Hatton to the east. To the south lie Bedfont and Stanwell while to the west Heathrow is separated from Colnbrook in Berkshire by the M25 motorway. Heathrow falls entirely under the Hounslow post town of the TW postcode area.

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

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


For a chronicled history of Heathrow Airport, see History of London Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Airport started in 1929 as a small airfield (Great West Aerodrome) on land southeast of the hamlet of Heathrow (straddling a road which ran along the east and south edges of the present main terminals area). Development of the whole Heathrow area as a very big airfield started in 1944, stated to be for long-distance military aircraft bound for the far east. However, by the time the airfield was nearing completion, World War II had ended. The government continued to develop the airfield as a civil airport known as London Airport and later Heathrow.

The name 'Heathrow' originates from a local hamlet called 'Heathrow' or 'Heath Row', whose land was mostly farms and market gardens and orchards; there was a 'Heathrow Farm' (approximately where Terminal 1 is now), and a Heathrow Hall and a Heathrow House. Now the name 'Heathrow' is widely known across the world, and occurs in the names of many establishments around the airport, some having no connection with aviation, such as the Heathrow Garden centre in Sipson.

Heathrow today

Heathrow Airport is used by over 90 airlines flying to 170 destinations worldwide. The airport is the primary hub of British Airways, and is a base for Virgin Atlantic.

Of Heathrow's 69 million passengers in 2011, 7% were bound for UK destinations, 41% were short-haul international travellers and 52% were long-haul.[15] The busiest single destination in passenger numbers is New York, with over 3.8 million passengers between Heathrow and JFK / Newark airports in 2011.[16] The airport has four passenger terminals (Terminals 1, 3, 4 and 5) and a cargo terminal. The new passenger Terminal 2 is due to open in 2014, replacing the previous Terminal 2.

In the 1950s, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles in the shape of a hexagram with the permanent passenger terminal in the 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 only two parallel runways running east–west. These are extended versions of the two east-west runways from the original hexagram. From the air, almost all of the original runways can still be seen, incorporated into the present system of taxiways, except for the northernmost point, which has been completely lifted to allow for the enlarged entrance to the access tunnel. The northern apex, of the six pointed star, lay precisely at the point now occupied by Heathrow's unofficial 'gate guardian'. For many years the home of a 40% model of a British Airways Concorde, G-CONC, the site has been occupied by a model of an Emirates Airbus A380 since 2008.[17]

Policing of the airport is the responsibility of the aviation security unit of the Metropolitan Police, although the army, including armoured vehicles of the Household Cavalry, has occasionally been deployed at the airport during periods of heightened security. Heathrow's reputation for thefts has led to its sometimes being referred to as 'Thiefrow'.[18]

Full body scanners are now used at the airport, and passengers who object to their use after being selected are not allowed to fly. These display passengers' bodies as a cartoon-style figure, with indicators showing where concealed items may be.[19] The new imagery was introduced initially as a trial in September 2011 following complaints over privacy.[20]

Heathrow Airport has Anglican, Catholic, free church, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh chaplains. There is a multi-faith prayer room and counselling room in each terminal, in addition to St. George's Interdenominational Chapel in an underground vault adjacent to the old control tower, where Christian services take place. The chaplains organise and lead prayers at certain times in the prayer room.[21]

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.[22]

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

The original 1950s red-brick control tower was demolished in early 2013 to enable access roads for the new Terminal 2 to be laid. The Central Terminal Area, as it was named, was designed by Frederick Gibberd and opened in 1955. Air Traffic Control moved to a new control tower in 2007.[23]


Aircraft destined for Heathrow usually enter its airspace via one of four main reporting points: Bovingdon (BNN) over Hertfordshire, Lambourne (LAM) over Essex, Biggin Hill (BIG) over Bromley and Ockham (OCK) over Surrey.[24] Each is defined by a VOR radio-navigational beacon. When the airport is busy, aircraft orbit in the associated hold patterns. These holding areas lie to the north-west, north-east, south-east and south-west of the London conurbation. Aircraft hold between 7000 feet and 15000 feet at 1000 foot intervals. If these holds become full, aircraft are held at more distant points before being cleared onward to one of the four main holds.

Air traffic controllers at Heathrow Approach Control (based in Swanwick, Hampshire) then guide the aircraft to their final approach, merging aircraft from the four holds into a single stream of traffic, sometimes as close as 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) apart. Considerable use is made of continuous descent approach techniques to minimise the environmental effects of incoming aircraft, particularly at night.[25] Once an aircraft is established on its final approach, control is handed over to Heathrow Tower.

When runway alternation was introduced, aircraft generated significantly more noise on departure than when landing, so a preference for westerly operations during daylight was introduced, which continues to this day.[26] 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 landings are easterly there is no alternation; 09L remains the landing runway and 09R the departure runway due to the legacy of the now rescinded Cranford Agreement, pending taxiway works to allow the roles to be reversed. Occasionally, landings are allowed on the nominated departure runway, to help reduce airborne delays and to position landing aircraft closer to their terminal, reducing taxi times.

Night-time flights at Heathrow are subject to restrictions. Between 23:00 and 07:00, the noisiest aircraft (rated QC/8 and QC/16) cannot be scheduled for operation. In addition, during the night quota period (23:30–06:00) there are four limits:

  • A limit on the number of flights allowed;
  • A quota count system 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;[27]
  • QC/4 aircraft cannot be scheduled for operation.
  • A voluntary agreement with the airlines that no early morning arrivals will be scheduled to land before 04:30.

A trial of "noise relief zones" ran from December 2012 to March 2013, which concentrated approach flight paths into defined areas compared with the existing paths which were spread out. The zones used alternated weekly, meaning residents in the "no-fly" areas received respite from aircraft noise for set periods.[28] However, it was concluded that some residents in other areas experienced a significant disbenefit as a result of the trial and that it should therefore not be taken forward in its current form.


Further information: Landing slot

Until it was required to sell Gatwick and Stansted Airports, Heathrow Airport Holdings held a dominant position in the London aviation market, and has been heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as to how much it can charges airline to land. The annual increase in landing charge per passenger was capped at inflation minus 3% until 1 April 2003. From 2003 to 2007 charges increased by inflation plus 6.5% per year, taking the fee to £9.28 per passenger in 2007. In March 2008, the CAA announced that the charge would be allowed to increase by 23.5% to £12.80 from 1 April 2008, and by inflation plus 7.5% for each of the following four years.[29] In April 2013, the CAA announced a proposal for Heathrow to charge fees calculated by inflation minus 1.3%, continuing until 2019.[30] Whilst the cost of landing at Heathrow is determined by the CAA and BAA, the allocation of landing slots to airlines is carried out by Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL).[31]

Until 2008, air traffic between Heathrow and the United States was strictly governed by the countries' bilateral Bermuda II treaty. The treaty originally allowed only British Airways, Pan Am and TWA to fly from Heathrow to the US. In 1991, PAA and TWA sold their rights to United Airlines and American Airlines respectively, while Virgin Atlantic was added to the list of airlines allowed to operate on these routes. The Bermuda bilateral agreement conflicted with the Right of Establishment of the United Kingdom in relation to its EU membership, and as a consequence the UK was ordered to drop the agreement in 2004. A new "open skies" agreement was signed by the United States and the European Union on 30 April 2007 and came into effect on 30 March 2008. Since then, additional US Airlines including Continental (now United Airlines), US Airways and Delta have started services to Heathrow.

The airport has been criticised in recent years for overcrowding and delays;[32] according to BAA, Heathrow's facilities were originally designed to accommodate 55 million passengers annually. The number of passengers using the airport reached a record 70 million in 2012.[33] In 2007 the airport was voted the world's least favourite, alongside Chicago O'Hare in a TripAdvisor survey.[34] However, the opening of Terminal 5 in 2008 has relieved some pressure on terminal facilities, increasing the airport's terminal capacity to 90 million passengers per year. A tie-up is also in place with McLaren Applied Technologies to optimise the general procedure, reducing delays and pollution.[35]

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.[36] In order to increase the number of flights, BAA has proposed using the existing two runways in 'mixed mode' whereby aircraft would be allowed to take off and land on the same runway. This would increase the airport's capacity from its current 480,000 movements per year to as many as 550,000 according to British Airways CEO Willie Walsh.[37] BAA also proposed building a third runway to the north of the airport, which would have significantly increased traffic capacity (see Future expansion below).[38]


Terminal 1

Terminal 1 opened in 1968 and was formally inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in May 1969.[39] 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, a 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 74,601 m2 (803,000 sq ft) 2, the terminal is home to Ireland's Aer Lingus, and several Star Alliance airlines. Since the buyout of British Midland International, British Airways serves some short-haul and medium-haul destinations from this terminal. Some of the newer 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 the new gates.

Terminal 1 will be closed by the end of 2016 once all airlines have moved to other Heathrow terminals, following the opening of T2 in June 2014.

Terminal 2 (under construction)

Heathrow's current major project is the construction of a vast new Terminal 2 on the site of the original Terminal 2 and the Queen's Building. Formerly known as Heathrow East Terminal, the whole project will occupy a site similar in size to that of Terminal 5. Terminal 2 is expected to be completed in November 2013 and will be followed by 6 months of testing. It is scheduled to open on 4 June 2014[40] with the arrival of a United Airlines flight from Chicago at 05:55. It will be used by all 23 Star Alliance members currently operating at Heathrow, Aer Lingus, Little Red (Virgin Atlantic's domestic operations) and Germanwings. The airlines will move from their current terminals in phases over a period of six months with only 10% of flights operating in the first 3 weeks to avoid the opening challenges witnessed at Terminal 5. The project includes the main Terminal 2 building, a 522-metre satellite pier (T2B), a 1,340 space car park and an energy centre and cooling station. Passengers will be able to choose from a selection of 52 shops and 17 bars and restaurants.[41]

The building will replace the original Terminal 2, which was the airport's oldest terminal. It opened as the Europa Building in 1955, and had an area of 49,654m2. Originally the terminal was designed to handle around 1.2 million passengers annually; in its final years of operation it often accommodated around 8 million. A total of 316 million passengers passed through the terminal in its lifetime. The terminal was demolished in 2010,[42] and the site was combined with that of the Queen's Building to form the site under development.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 opened as The Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes.[43] At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service to Central London from the gardens on the roof of the terminal building. Renamed Terminal 3 in 1968, it was expanded in 1970 with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities added included the UK's first moving walkways. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed[44] to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas now operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380. These three airlines have nearly a dozen daily A380 flights. 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 was assigned its 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 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.[45]

Today Terminal 3 has an area of 98,962 m2 (1,065,220 sq ft) and in 2011 handled 19.8 million passengers on 104,100 flights.[46]

Terminal 4

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. The terminal has an area of 105,481 m2 (1,135,390 sq ft) and is now home to the SkyTeam 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, a new baggage system installed as well as the construction of two new stands to accommodate the Airbus A380 with Malaysia Airlines operating regular A380 flights.[47]

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,[48] some 19 years after its inception. It 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.[49] Until March 2012, Terminal 5 was exclusively used by British Airways as its global hub; however, because of the merger, on 25 March Iberia's operations at Heathrow were moved to the terminal, making it the home of International Airlines Group.

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 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 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft) while Concourse B covers 60,000 square metres (650,000 sq ft).[50] It has 60 aircraft stands and capacity for 30 million passengers annually as well as more than 100 shops and restaurants.[51]

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 to maximise the cost savings envisaged under the deal. A proposal for Concourse D featured in Heathrow's most recent capital investment plan.

The transport network around the airport has been extended to cope with the increase in passenger numbers. A dedicated motorway spur links the M25 between junctions 14 and 15 to the terminal, which includes a 3,800 space multi-storey car park. A more distant long-stay car park for business passengers is connected to the terminal by a personal rapid transit system, which became operational in Spring 2011.[52] New branches of both the Heathrow Express and the Underground's Piccadilly Line serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

Cargo terminal

Heathrow's cargo terminal is located south of the runways, towards the west. It was built in or soon before 1968. The Cargo Tunnel connects it to Terminals 1, 2 and 3, with the Western Tug Road connecting it to Terminal 5. Stands 607, 608 & 609, as well as the 'Zulu' cul de sac, are the main areas used for the dedicated cargo flights.

In 1948 (see map) the area was still farm or market garden land around Eglantine Cottage.

Olympics 2012

To accommodate the rush of about 7,000 athletes and their non-competing followers leaving when the 2012 Olympics ended, a temporary new terminal was built on a staff car park. Described as being "the area of 3 Olympic sized swimming pools", it seemed to be made of plastic sheeting on metal posts. Construction started in February 2012. After check-in the passengers were bussed to departures of the permanent terminals where their flights were to depart from.[53][54] Some of their luggage was checked in at their hotels.

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aegean Airlines Athens 1
Aer Lingus Belfast-City, Cork, Dublin, Shannon 1
Aeroflot Moscow-Sheremetyevo 4
Aeroméxico Mexico City 4
Air Algérie Algiers 4
Air Astana Almaty, Astana [55] 4
Air Canada Calgary, Halifax, Montréal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver
Seasonal: Edmonton,[56] St. John's
Air China Beijing-Capital 3
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle 4
Air India Delhi, Mumbai 4
Air Malta Malta 4
Air Mauritius Mauritius 4
Air New Zealand Auckland, Los Angeles 1
Air Serbia Belgrade 4
Alitalia Milan-Linate, Rome-Fiumicino 4
All Nippon Airways Tokyo-Narita 3
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Raleigh/Durham 3
Arik Air Lagos 4
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon 1
Austrian Airlines
operated by Tyrolean Airways
Vienna 1
Azerbaijan Airlines Baku 4
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dhaka, Sylhet 4
British Airways Amman-Queen Alia, Baku, Beirut, Belfast-City, Cairo, Dublin, Hanover, Luxembourg, Lyon, Marseille, Rotterdam/The Hague, Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion (moving to Terminal 5 on 24 March 2014)[57] 1
British Airways Bucharest, Budapest, Gibraltar, Helsinki, Lisbon, Prague, Vienna, Warsaw-Chopin 3
British Airways Aberdeen, Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Accra, Agadir, Alicante, Almaty, Amsterdam, Athens, Atlanta, Austin (begins 3 March 2014),[58] Bahrain, Baltimore, Belfast, Bangalore, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse, Beijing-Capital, Bergen, Berlin-Tegel, Bologna, Boston, Brussels, Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Calgary, Cape Town, Chengdu, Chennai, Chicago-O'Hare, Copenhagen, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denver, Doha, Dubai-International, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Freetown, Geneva, Glasgow, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Grand Cayman, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Houston-Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Ibiza, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Johannesburg-Tambo, Kiev-Boryspil, Kuwait, Lagos, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Leeds/Bradford, Los Angeles, Luanda, Madrid, Manchester, Marrakech, Mexico City, Miami, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Monrovia, Montreal-Trudeau, Moscow-Domodedovo, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Nairobi, Nassau, New York-JFK, Newark, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nice, Oslo-Gardermoen, Palma de Mallorca, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pisa, Porto (begins 30 March 2014), Providenciales, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Riyadh, Rome-Fiumicino, St Petersburg, San Diego, San Francisco, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sofia, Stavanger, Stockholm Arlanda, Stuttgart, Sydney, Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Toulouse, Tripoli, Vancouver, Venice-Marco Polo, Washington-Dulles, Zagreb, Zürich
Seasonal: Faro (begins 30 March 2014), Gran Canaria, Mykonos (begins 3 May 2014), Santorini (begins 4 May 2014)[59]
Brussels Airlines Brussels 1
Bulgaria Air Sofia 4
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong 3
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai-Pudong 4
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou 4
Croatia Airlines Zagreb
Seasonal: Rijeka, Split
Cyprus Airways Larnaca 1
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Seattle/Tacoma (begins 30 March 2014)[60] 4
EgyptAir Cairo, Luxor 3
El Al Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion 1
Emirates Dubai-International 3
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa 3
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 4
EVA Air Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Taipei-Taoyuan 3
Finnair Helsinki 3
Germanwings Berlin-Tegel (begins 13 January 2014), Cologne/Bonn, Hamburg (begins 13 January 2014), Stuttgart 1
Gulf Air Bahrain 4
Iberia Madrid 5
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík 1
Iran Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini 3
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Narita 3
Jet Airways Delhi, Mumbai 4
Kenya Airways Nairobi 4
KLM Amsterdam 4
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Amsterdam 4
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon 4
Kuwait Airways Kuwait, New York-JFK 4
Libyan Airlines Tripoli 3
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw-Chopin 1
Lufthansa Berlin-Tegel (ends 12 January 2014), Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg (ends 12 January 2014), Munich 1
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur 4
Middle East Airlines Beirut 3
Oman Air Muscat 3
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore 3
Philippine Airlines Manila[61] 4
Qantas Dubai-International, Melbourne, Sydney 3
Qatar Airways Doha 4
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangier 4
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan, Dubai-International 4
Royal Jordanian Amman-Queen Alia 3
Saudia Jeddah, Riyadh
Seasonal: Medina
Scandinavian Airlines Bergen, Copenhagen, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Oslo-Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm-Arlanda 3
Singapore Airlines Singapore 3
South African Airways Johannesburg 1
SriLankan Airlines Colombo 4
Swiss International Air Lines Geneva, Zürich 1
TAM Airlines Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, São Paulo-Guarulhos 1
TAP Portugal Lisbon
Seasonal: Funchal
TAROM Bucharest 4
Thai Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 3
Transaero Airlines Moscow-Vnukovo 1
Tunisair Tunis 4
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk 3
Turkmenistan Airlines Ashgabat 3
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles 1
United Airlines Houston-Intercontinental, Newark 4
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia 1
Uzbekistan Airways Tashkent 4
Virgin Atlantic Boston, Delhi, Dubai-International, Hong Kong, Johannesburg-Tambo, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai, New York-JFK, Newark, San Francisco, Shanghai-Pudong, Sydney, Tokyo-Narita, Washington-Dulles
Seasonal: Cape Town, Chicago-O'Hare, Vancouver
Virgin Atlantic
operated by Aer Lingus
Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester 1
Vueling A Coruña, Bilbao, Florence, Palma de Mallorca 3

Terminal moves and rearrangements

Following the opening of Terminal 5 in March 2008, a hugely complex programme of terminal moves was implemented. This saw many airlines move so as to be grouped in terminals by airline alliance as far as possible.[62] However, the process was complicated by the acquisition of Star Alliance member BMI by Oneworld member British Airways, the transfer of Continental Airlines from SkyTeam to Star Alliance prior to its merger with United Airlines, and formerly non-aligned carriers such as EVA Air and Malaysia Airlines joining alliances. As of January 2013, the terminals are assigned to airline alliances as follows:

  • Terminal 1: Star Alliance,[63] plus Aer Lingus, El Al and some British Airways destinations
  • Terminal 3: Oneworld and Star Alliance[63] as well as Virgin Atlantic
  • Terminal 4: SkyTeam, with some United Airlines destinations
  • Terminal 5: Oneworld (British Airways and Iberia)

Non-aligned airlines operate from Terminals 1, 3 and 4. Virgin Atlantic's domestic flights operate from Terminal 1.

When Phase 1 of the new Terminal 2 opens (expected to be 4 June 2014), all Star Alliance member airlines will move there (along with Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic domestic flights). All British Airways services will be moved to Terminals 3 and 5. Terminal 1 will then be gradually demolished to make way for Phase 2 of the new Terminal 2, with all airlines operating from Terminal 1 moving to other terminals.

Once the moves are complete the terminal assignments are expected to be as follows:

  • Terminal 2: Star Alliance, plus Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Little Red (domestic operations) and germanwings
  • Terminal 3: Oneworld (including some British Airways flights), Virgin Atlantic (long-haul) and some non-aligned airlines
  • Terminal 4: SkyTeam, plus most non-aligned airlines
  • Terminal 5: IAG - (most British Airways flights, except those at Terminal 3, and Iberia)


Airlines Destinations
British Airways World Cargo Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Brussels, Budapest, Cairo, Chennai, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Glasgow-Prestwick, Hong Kong, İstanbul, Johannesburg, Manchester (UK), Mexico City, Milan-Malpensa, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Mumbai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Sofia, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Toronto-Pearson
Cathay Pacific Cargo Delhi, Hong Kong, Milan-Malpensa, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
DHL Aviation Amsterdam, Brussels, East Midlands, Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Emirates SkyCargo Dubai
Etihad Crystal Cargo Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt
Ethopian Airlines Cargo Lagos
EVA Air Cargo Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Dubai, Taipei-Taoyuan
Korean Air Cargo Seoul-Incheon
MASkargo Kuala Lumpur
Royal Air Maroc Cargo Casablanca
Royal Jordanian Cargo Amman-Queen Alia
Singapore Airlines Cargo Copenhagen, Sharjah, Singapore
Swiss WorldCargo Zürich
Turkish Airlines Cargo İstanbul

Other facilities

The head office of BAA Limited is located in the Compass Centre by Heathrow's northern runway, a building that previously served as a British Airways flight crew centre.[64] 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.[65] International Airlines Group has its head office in 2 World Business Centre.[66][67]

At one time the British Airways head office was located within Heathrow Airport at Speedbird House[68] before the completion of Waterside, the current BA head office in Harmondsworth, in June 1998.[69]

To the north of the airfield lies the Northern Perimeter Road, along which most of Heathrow’s car rental agencies are based, and Bath Road, which runs parallel to it, but outside the airport campus - this is nicknamed by locals as “The Strip” owing to its continuous line of airport hotels.

Traffic and statistics

Although BAA claims that Heathrow is the "world's busiest international airport",[15] in 2011 it ranked third-busiest by total passenger traffic, after Atlanta and Beijing which are both international airports. However, Heathrow does have the highest number of international passengers.

In 2011, Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe in total passenger traffic,[3] with 13.9% more passengers than Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport[70] and 23.0% more than Frankfurt Airport,[71] However, it was in second place behind Charles de Gaulle in total aircraft movements in 2011 with 5.1% fewer landings and take offs than its French counterpart.[70] Heathrow was the third busiest European airport by cargo traffic in 2010, after Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.[72]

Busiest international routes

Busiest international routes to and from Heathrow Airport (2012)[73]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
2011 / 12
1 United StatesNew York-JFK 2,839,007 Increase 6.0
2 Dubai 1,959,169 Increase 3.7
3 Dublin 1,577,649 Increase 1.4
4 Frankfurt 1,482,459 Increase 0.9
5 Amsterdam 1,429,800 Increase 1.6
6 Hong Kong 1,387,036 Decrease 1.8
7 United StatesLos Angeles 1,304,076 Increase 0.4
8 Istanbul 1,267,378 Increase 3.1
9 Madrid 1,197,825 Increase 0.6
10 United StatesChicago-O'Hare 1,188,005 Decrease 1.6
11 United StatesNewark 1,167,792 Decrease 2.5
12 Paris-CDG 1,167,557 Decrease 8.2
13 Singapore 1,167,226 Increase 9.1
14 Oslo-Gardermoen 1,110,398 Increase 1.8
15 Rome-Fiumicino 1,037,310 Decrease 1.5
16 United StatesMiami 1,031,276 Increase 8.1
16 Zürich 1,011,799 Increase 5.6
17 United StatesBoston 996,648 Decrease 3.3
18 United StatesSan Francisco 965,712 Increase 4.3
19 Copenhagen 957,538 Increase 2.0
20 Geneva 955,215 Decrease 2.3
21 United StatesWashington-Dulles 953,954 Decrease 3.5
22 Toronto-Pearson 951,078 Increase 2.7
23 Delhi 918,860 Decrease 8.4
24 Mumbai 891,607 Decrease 6.2
25 Stockholm 876,446 Decrease 1.5
27 Johannesburg 862,348 Increase 2.6
28 Doha 804,777 Increase 18.2
29 Vienna 794,227 Increase 2.0
30 Milan-Linate 748,236 Increase 2.0
31 Barcelona 737,617 Increase 3.9
32 Lisbon 731,566 Decrease 1.9
33 Athens 680,472 Decrease 7.5
34 Berlin-Tegel 670,835 Decrease 3.4
35 Munich 665,557 Increase 5.8
36 Tokyo-Narita 648,000 Increase 7.3
37 United StatesDallas-Fort Worth 638,793 Increase 14.6
38 Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 636,840 Increase 10.0
39 Düsseldorf 623,043 Increase 3.2
40 Tel Aviv 592,078 Increase 6.2
41 Abu Dhabi 587,810 Increase 1.7
42 United StatesHouston-Intercontinental 554,385 Decrease 0.2
43 Helsinki 552,193 Decrease 6.7
44 Nice 548,190 Increase 2.0
45 Sydney 547,707 Decrease 21.5
46 Brussels 547,617 Increase 6.0
47 Vancouver 535,415 Increase 8.5
48 Hamburg 532,612 Increase 5.5
49 Moscow-Domodedovo 531,432 Increase 3.9
50 Lagos 491,119 Increase 3.2
51 Kuala Lumpur 486,393 Increase 12.3
52 Cape Town 452,770 Decrease 8.1
53 United StatesAtlanta 452,136 Increase 28.5
54 Cairo 450,452 Increase 1.0
55 Larnaca 413,787 Decrease 7.0
56 Nairobi 413,751 Decrease 16.2
57 São Paulo 413,291 Increase 11.4
58 Czech Republic Prague 402,040 Increase 19.1
59 Bergen-Flesland 384,457 Decrease 3.1
60 Stavanger-Sola 382,135 Increase 2.5

Busiest domestic routes

Busiest domestic and British overseas routes to and from Heathrow Airport (2012)[73]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change 2011 / 12
1 Edinburgh 1,254,993 Decrease 1.3
2 Glasgow-International 828,531 Increase 0.9
3 Manchester 792,831 Increase 3.4
4 Aberdeen 663,809 Increase 1.7
5 Belfast-City 499,215 Increase 16.5
6 Newcastle 489,726 Increase 3.4
7 Belfast-International 191,463 Decrease 33.8
8 Gibraltar 95,423 Increase 9.5

Annual passenger numbers

Passenger numbers at Heathrow[74]
handled[nb 1]
% Change
% Change
% Change
1986 31,675,779 537,131 315,753
1987 35,079,755 Increase10.7 574,116 Increase6.9 329,977 Increase 4.3
1988 37,840,503 Increase7.9 642,147 Increase11.8 351,592 Increase 6.1
1989 39,881,922 Increase5.4 686,170 Increase6.9 368,429 Increase 4.6
1990 42,950,512 Increase7.7 695,347 Increase1.3 390,372 Increase 5.6
1991 40,494,575 Decrease5.7 654,625 Decrease5.9 381,724 Decrease 2.3
1992 45,242,591 Increase11.7 754,770 Increase15.3 406,481 Increase 6.1
1993 47,899,081 Increase5.9 846,486 Increase12.2 411,173 Increase 1.1
1994 51,713,366 Increase8.0 962,738 Increase13.7 424,557 Increase 3.2
1995 54,461,597 Increase5.3 1,031,639 Increase7.2 434,525 Increase 2.3
1996 56,049,706 Increase2.9 1,040,486 Increase0.9 440,343 Increase 1.3
1997 58,185,398 Increase3.8 1,156,104 Increase11.1 440,631 Increase 0.1
1998 60,683,988 Increase4.3 1,208,893 Increase4.6 451,382 Increase 2.4
1999 62,268,292 Increase2.6 1,265,495 Increase4.7 458,300 Increase 1.5
2000 64,618,254 Increase3.8 1,306,905 Increase3.3 466,799 Increase 1.8
2001 60,764,924 Decrease6.0 1,180,306 Decrease9.6 463,567 Decrease 0.7
2002 63,362,097 Increase4.3 1,234,940 Increase4.6 466,545 Increase 0.6
2003 63,495,367 Increase0.2 1,223,439 Decrease0.9 463,650 Decrease 0.6
2004 67,342,743 Increase6.1 1,325,173 Increase8.3 476,001 Increase 2.6
2005 67,913,153 Increase0.8 1,305,686 Decrease1.5 477,887 Increase 0.4
2006 67,527,923 Decrease0.6 1,264,129 Decrease3.2 477,048 Decrease 0.2
2007 68,066,028 Increase0.8 1,310,987 Increase3.7 481,476 Increase 0.9
2008 67,054,745 Decrease1.5 1,397,054 Increase6.6 478,693 Decrease 0.6
2009 66,036,957 Decrease1.5 1,277,650 Decrease8.5 466,393 Decrease 2.6
2010 65,881,660 Decrease0.2 1,472,988 Increase15.3 454,823 Decrease 2.5
2011 69,433,230 Increase5.4 1,484,351 Increase0.8 480,906 Increase 5.4
2012 70,037,417 Increase0.9 1,464,390 Decrease1.3 475,176 Decrease 1.2

Countries with most passengers to Heathrow

Countries with maximum passengers to/from Heathrow (2010)
Passengers handled
% Change
2009 / 10
1  United States 12,340,933 Increase0.03
2  Germany 4,341,214 Increase7.57
3  Italy 2,377,026 Increase12.00
4  Canada 2,354,965 Decrease4.07
5  United Arab Emirates 2,291,338 Increase0.91
6  India 2,283,731 Decrease3.22
7  Ireland 2,156,503 Decrease3.77
8  Turkey 2,142,910 Increase7.86
9  France 2,138,519 Decrease1.81
10  Spain 2,127,872 Decrease5.24
11   Switzerland 1,896,859 Increase14.47
12  Hong Kong 1,386,779 Decrease9.29
13  South Africa 1,378,268 Decrease6.95
14  Netherlands 1,333,124 Decrease11.70
15  Sweden 1,058,134 Increase2.01
16  Australia 1,030,619 Decrease1.34
17  Singapore 1,022,220 Decrease9.01
18  Denmark 870,104 Increase1.90
19  Russia 747,425 Increase13.93
20  Portugal 746,946 Decrease2.78


Public transport


Heathrow area rail services

Bus and coach

Many buses and coaches operate from the large Heathrow airport central bus station serving Terminals 1 and 3, and also from bus stations at Terminals 4 and 5. Services include the following:

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.

Inter-terminal transport

Terminals 1 and 3 are within walking distance of each other. Transfers to Terminal 4 and 5 are by Heathrow Express trains or bus. Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services between Heathrow Central and Terminals 4 and 5 are free of charge.[80] 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;[81] 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 has been opened in April 2011 to shuttle passengers to and from Terminal 5 at a speed of up to 40 km/h (25 mph). 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.[82]


Taxis are available at all terminals.[83]


Heathrow is accessible via the nearby M4 motorway and A4 road (Terminals 1–3), the M25 motorway (Terminals 4 and 5), and the A30 road (Terminal 4). There are drop off and pick up areas at all terminals and short[84] and long stay[85] 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 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.


There are (mainly off-road) bicycle routes to some of the terminals.[86] 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.[87]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 3 March 1948, Sabena Douglas DC3 OO-AWH crashed in fog. Three crew and 19 of the 22 passengers onboard died.[88]
  • On 31 October 1950, BEA Vickers Viking G-AHPN crashed at Heathrow after hitting the runway during a go-around. Three crew and 25 passengers died.[89]
  • On 1 August 1956, XA897, an Avro Vulcan strategic bomber of the Royal Air Force, 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.[90]
  • On 7 January 1960, Vickers Viscount 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.[91]
  • 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 onboard died.[92][93]
  • On 8 April 1968, BOAC Flight 712 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, 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, a flight attendant on board who helped with the evacuation, was posthumously awarded the George Cross.[94]
  • On 3 July 1968, the port flap operating rod of G-AMAD, an Airspeed Ambassador operated by BKS Air Transport failed due to fatigue thereby allowing the port flaps to retract. This resulted in a rolling movement 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 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,[95] 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 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.[96]
  • On 18 June 1972, Trident G-ARPI, operating as BEA548, 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.[97]
  • 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 recorders should have a two-hour duration in aircraft registered before April 1998.[98]
  • On 17 January 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777-236ER, G-YMMM, operating flight BA038 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.[99]

Terrorism and security incidents

  • On 8 June 1968, James Earl Ray, the man convicted of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., was captured and arrested at Heathrow Airport while attempting to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport.[100]
  • On 19 May 1974, the IRA planted a series of bombs in the Terminal 1 car park. Two people were injured by the explosions.[101]
  • On 26 November 1983, the Brink's-MAT robbery occurred, in which 6,800 gold bars worth nearly £26 million were taken from a vault near Heathrow. Only a small amount of the gold was recovered, and only two men were convicted of the crime.[102]
  • On 17 April 1986, semtex explosives were found in the bag of a pregnant Irishwoman attempting to board an El Al flight. The explosives had been given to her by her Jordanian boyfriend and father of her unborn child Nizar Hindawi. The incident became known as the Hindawi Affair.[103]
  • On 21 December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 from Heathrow to New York/JFK was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 onboard and 11 other people on the ground.[104]
  • In 1994, over a six-day period, Heathrow was targeted three times (8, 10, and 13 March) by the IRA, which 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.[105]
  • In March 2002, thieves stole US$3 million that had arrived on a South African Airways flight.[106]
  • In February 2003, the British Army was deployed to Heathrow along with 1,000 police officers in response to intelligence reports suggesting that al-Qaeda terrorists might launch surface-to-air missile attacks at British or American airliners.[107]
  • On 17 May 2004, Scotland Yard's Flying Squad foiled an attempt by seven men to steal £40 million in gold bullion and a similar quantity of cash from the Swissport warehouse at Heathrow.[108]
  • On 10 August 2006, the airport became the focus of changes in security protocol, following the revelation of a supposed al-Qaeda terrorist plot. New security rules were put in force immediately, causing additional restrictions in regards to carrying liquids onto 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 onboard of liquid medications and baby milk, if they were tasted first by passengers at the security checkpoint.[109]
  • On 25 February 2008, Greenpeace activists protesting against the planned third runway managed to cross the tarmac and climb atop a British Airways Airbus A320, 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.[110]
  • 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 later said that the incident had not been terrorism related.[111]

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.[112]
  • On 18 December 2010, 'heavy' (9 cm, according to the Heathrow Winter Resilience Enquiry)[113] 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.[114] 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.[115]
  • On 12 July 2013, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked at Heathrow airport caught fire.[116] There were no passengers aboard and no injuries. The cause is under investigation.[117]

Future expansion

Runway and terminal expansion

In January 2009 the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced that the UK government supported the expansion of Heathrow by building a third 2,200-metre (7,200 ft) runway and a sixth terminal building.[118] This decision followed the 2003 white paper on the future of air transport in the UK,[119] and a public consultation in November 2007.[120] This was a controversial decision which met with widespread opposition because of the expected greenhouse gas emissions, impact on local communities, as well as noise and air pollution concerns.

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, has taken the position that London needs more airport capacity, but favours constructing an entirely new airport in the Thames Estuary rather than expanding Heathrow.[121] After the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition took power, it was announced that the third runway expansion was cancelled.[12] Two years later, leading Conservatives were reported to have changed their minds.[122]

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,[123] built on a link to the High Speed 2 railway line.[124]


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.[125] 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 stated that the scheme should add significantly to its aim of increasing the proportion of people using public transport to travel to the Airport.[126] In April 2011, BAA announced that it was abandoning the project,[127] citing the unavailability of government subsidy and other priorities for Heathrow,[128] such as linking to Crossrail and HS2.

Heathrow/Gatwick rail link

Main article: Heathwick

The Department for Transport is studying the possibility of a direct high-speed rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.[129]

Metaphorical use

See also




  • Cotton, Jonathan; Mills, John & Clegg, Gillian. (1986) Archaeology in West Middlesex. Uxbridge: London Borough of Hillingdon ISBN 0-907869-07-6
  • Gallop, Alan. (2005) Time Flies: Heathrow At 60. Stroud: Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-3840-4
  • Halpenny, Bruce B. (1992) Action Stations Vol.8: Military Airfields of Greater London. ISBN 1-85260-431-X
  • Sherwood, Philip. (1990) The History of Heathrow. Uxbridge: London Borough of Hillingdon ISBN 0-907869-27-0
  • Sherwood, Philip. (1999) Heathrow: 2000 Years of History. Stroud: Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-2132-3
  • Sherwood, Philip. (2006) Around Heathrow Past & Present. Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-4135-9
    • (Contains many pairs of photographs, old (or in one case a painting), and new, each pair made from the same viewpoint.)
  • Sherwood, Philip. (2009) Heathrow: 2000 Years of History. Stroud: The History Press ISBN 978-0-7524-5086-2
  • Sherwood, Philip. (2012) Around Heathrow Through Time. Amberley Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4456-0846-4
  • Sherwood, Tim. (1999) Coming in to Land: A Short History of Hounslow, Hanworth and Heston Aerodromes 1911–1946. ISBN 1-899144-30-7
  • Smith, Graham. (2003) Taking to the Skies: the Story of British Aviation 1903–1939. Countryside ISBN 1-85306-815-2
  • Smith, Ron. (2002) British Built Aircraft Vol.1. Greater London: Tempus ISBN 0-7524-2770-9
  • Sturtivant, Ray. (1995) Fairey Aircraft: in Old Photographs. Alan Sutton ISBN 0-7509-1135-2
  • Taylor, H.A. (1974) Fairey Aircraft since 1915. Putnam ISBN 0-370-00065-X.
  • Taylor, John WR. (1997) Fairey Aviation: Archive Photographs. Chalford ISBN 0-7524-0684-1

External links

  • Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee
  • Internet Archive
  • Heathrow Air Watch – Information on pollution levels around Heathrow
  • Longford Residents' Association ( archived copy

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