The Full Wiki

London Heathrow Airport: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , located in the London Borough of Hillingdonmarker, is the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic. It is the world's second busiest airport in total passenger traffic and the United Kingdommarker's largest and busiest airport. It is also the busiest in the European Union in terms of passenger traffic and the second busiest in terms of traffic movements. Heathrow is owned and operated by BAA, which also owns and operates six other UK airports; BAA is owned by an international consortium led by Spain's Ferrovial Group. Heathrow is the primary hub of British Airways, BMI and Virgin Atlantic.

Located west of Central London, Heathrow was designed to have six runways in three pairs but now has two parallel main runways running east-west and five terminals. The site covers . Terminal 5marker was officially opened 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 terminal building and adjacent Queen's Building began in 2009; the first phase is expected to open in 2014. Terminals 3 and 4 have recently undergone major refurbishments. In November 2007 a consultation process began for the building of a new third runway and was controversially approved on 15 January 2009 by UK Government ministers.

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


Heathrow is located west of central London, near the southern end of the London Borough of Hillingdonmarker. The airport stands on a parcel of land that was designated part of the London Metropolitan Green Belt. To the north, the airport is surrounded by the built-up areas of Harlingtonmarker, Harmondsworthmarker, Longfordmarker and Cranfordmarker.
To the east are Hounslowmarker and Hattonmarker, and to the south are East Bedfontmarker and Stanwellmarker. To the west, the M25 motorwaymarker separates the airport from Colnbrookmarker in Berkshire.

The airport's location to the west of London, and the east-west orientation of its runways, means that airliners usually approach to land directly over the city. Other leading European airports, such as those at Madrid, Frankfurt and Paris, are located north or south of their cities, to minimise the overflying problem. Another disadvantage of the site is that it is low-lying, at above sea level, and can be prone to fog.

Heathrow is one of six airports serving the Londonmarker area, along with Gatwickmarker, Stanstedmarker, Lutonmarker, Southendmarker and Citymarker although only Heathrow and City Airports are located within Greater Londonmarker.


1930s and 1940s

A map of Heathrow from before WWII
A map of Heathrow from 1948 showing the small passenger aircraft apron just below "The Magpie" in the airport's NE corner
Aviation at the location of what is now Heathrow Airport began during World War I, when the site was used as a military airfield. By the 1930s the airfield, then known as the Great Western Aerodrome, was privately owned by Fairey Aviation Company, and was used for aircraft assembly and testing. Commercial traffic used Croydon Airportmarker, which was London's main airport at the time.

In 1943, Heathrow came under the control of the Air Ministry, to be developed as a Royal Air Force transfer station. Construction of runways began in 1944, on land that was originally acquired from the vicar of Harmondsworthmarker. The new airport was built by Wimpey Construction, and was named after the hamlet of Heathrowmarker, little more than a row of isolated cottages on Hounslow Heath frequented by highwaymen; which was demolished to make way for the airport, and which was located approximately where Terminal 3 now stands.
The Royal Air Force never made use of the airport, and following the end of World War II control was transferred to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on 1 January 1946. The first civil flight that day was to Buenos Airesmarker, via Lisbonmarker for refuelling. The official opening ceremony was performed on 25 March 1946 by Lord Winster, the Minister of Aviation. On 16 April a Panair Lockheed L-049 Constellation landed after a flight from Rio de Janeiromarker, the first aircraft of a foreign airline to land at Heathrow. The first BOAC scheduled flight departed for Australia on 28 May. This route was operated as a joint route with Qantas.

The airport opened fully for civilian use on 31 May 1946, and by 1947 Heathrow had three runways, with three more under construction. These older runways, built for the piston-engined planes of that era, were each slightly longer than a mile in length, arranged in a 6-point star pattern to allow for all wind conditions. The temporary "prefab" passenger and cargo buildings were located at the northeast edge of the airport, just south of Bath Road.

1950s and 1960s

Heathrow in the 1960s

In 1953, the first slab of the first modern runway was ceremonially placed by Queen Elizabeth II. She also opened the first permanent terminal building, the Europa Building (now known as Terminal 2), in 1955. On 1 April 1955, a new control tower designed by Frederick Gibberd was opened, replacing the original RAF control tower.

The Oceanic Terminal (renamed as Terminal 3 in 1968) opened on 13 November 1961, to handle flight departures for long-haul routes. At this time the airport had a direct helicopter service from central London; there were also public viewing facilities and gardens on the roof of the Europa Building By the time Terminal 1 was opened in 1968, completing the cluster of buildings at the centre of the airport site, Heathrow was handling 14 million passengers annually.

The location of the original terminals in the centre of the site has since become a constraint to expansion. The decision to locate them there reflected an early assumption that airline passengers would not require extensive car parking, as air travel was then only affordable to the wealthy, who would often be chauffeur-driven.

In the late 1960s a cargo terminal was built to the south of the southern runway, connected to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 by a tunnel.

1970s to 1990s

In 1970, Terminal 3 was expanded with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities were also added, including the UK's first moving walkways. Heathrow's two main runways, 09L-27R and 09R-27L, were also extended to their current lengths in order to accommodate new large jets such as the Boeing 747. The other runways were closed to facilitate terminal expansions – except for Runway 23, which was preserved for crosswind landings until 2002.

In 1977, the London Underground Piccadilly Line was extended to Heathrow; connecting the airport with Central London in just under an hour. On 23 June 1998 Heathrow Express started operating, providing a direct rail service to London's Paddington stationmarker, via a specially-constructed line between the airport and the Great Western Main Line.

Continued growth in passenger numbers to 30 million annually by the early 1980s led to the need for more terminal space. Terminal 4 was constructed to the south of the southern runway, next to the existing cargo terminal, and away from the three older terminals. It was connected with Terminals 1, 2 and 3 by the already-existing Heathrow Cargo Tunnel. Terminal 4 was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in April 1986, and became the home for then newly privatised British Airways.

In August 1982, the "Airport Spur" section of the M4 was opened to give the airport a direct link with the motorway and provide motorway access to airport users from as far away as the West Country and South Walesmarker. Four years later, the M25 was completed as the London Orbital Motorway giving a direct motorway link to much of the rest of the country.[1692]

In 1987, the UK government privatised the British Airports Authority (now known as "BAA Limited") which controls Heathrow and six other UK airports.

During the 1980s and 1990s, since privatisation, BAA has expanded the proportion of terminal space allocated to retailing activities, and has invested in the development of retail activity. This has included expanding terminal areas to provide more shops and restaurants, and routing passengers through shopping areas, in order to maximise their exposure to retail offerings.

Heathrow today

Heathrow Airport is used by over 90 airlines which fly to 170 destinations worldwide. The airport is the primary hub of British Airways, BMI and Virgin Atlantic.

Of Heathrow's 67 million annual passengers, 11% travel to 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 3.5 million passengers travelling between Heathrow and JFK / Newark airports in 2007 and 2,802,870 in 2008. The airport has five passenger terminals (Terminals 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) and a cargo terminal. Terminal 5 opened to passengers on 27 March 2008 and will be fully completed with the opening of its second satellite building in 2010.

Originally, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles, with the passenger terminal in the centre. With growth in the required length for runways, Heathrow now has just two parallel runways running east-west. Runway 23, a short runway for use in strong south-westerly winds, was decommissioned in 2005 and now forms part of a taxiway.

The Heathrow Academy (the airport's Visitor Centre)

In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed at Heathrow's Terminal 3 in order to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo, providing four new aircraft stands. Other modifications totalling in excess of £340 million have also been carried out across the airfield in readiness for the Airbus A380, and the newly opened Terminal 5 is also fully compatible with the A380. The first A380 test flight into Heathrow took place on 18 May 2006, but following delays to the aircraft's production, scheduled services did not commence from Heathrow until 18 March 2008, when Singapore Airlines Flight 380, the first A380 in passenger service, registered 9V-SKA of Singapore Airlines touched down from Singapore carrying 470 passengers, marking the first ever European commercial flight by the Airbus A380.

A new high £50 million air traffic control tower entered service on 21 April 2007, and was officially opened on 13 June 2007 by Secretary of State for Transport Douglas Alexander.

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

Heathrow Airport has Anglican, Catholic, Free Church of Scotland, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish chaplains. There is a multi-faith prayer room and counselling room in each terminal, in addition to St. George's Interdenominational Chapelmarker which is 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. There is an Anglican Service every Tuesday and Wednesday, daily Catholic Mass and Free Church prayers in the chapel.

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.


Aircraft destined for Heathrow usually enter its airspace via one of four main reporting points: Bovingdon (BNN) over Hertfordshiremarker, Lambourne (LAM) over Essex, Biggin Hill (BIG) over Bromleymarker and Ockham (OCK) over Surreymarker. Each is defined by a VOR radio-navigational beacon. When the airport is busy, aircraft will orbit in the associated holds. These reporting points/holds lie respectively to the north-west, north-east, south-east and south-west of the London conurbation.

Air traffic controllers at Heathrow Approach Control (based in Swanwickmarker, 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 apart. Considerable use is made of continuous descent approach 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 daytime operations. 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.
A radar tower situated in Heathrow's central terminal area
'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 3 pm 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. Between 11.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. the noisiest aircraft (rated QC/8 and QC/16) cannot be scheduled to operate at all. In addition, between 11.30 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. (the night quota period) there are three 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;
  • A voluntary ban on QC/4 aircraft.


As BAA owns London's three major airports and therefore has a monopolistic position, the amount it is allowed to charge airlines to land aeroplanes at Heathrow is heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Until 1 April 2003, the annual increase in landing charge 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.

In addition, 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 and Virgin Atlantic was added to the list of airlines allowed to operate on these routes. In 2002, American Airlines and British Airways announced plans to coordinate the scheduling of their trans-Atlantic routes but plans were dropped after the United States Department of Transportation made approval conditional on the granting of further access slots to Heathrow to other US airlines. American Airlines and British Airways considered the slots too valuable and dropped the plans. The Bermuda bilateral agreement conflicted with the Right of Establishment of the United Kingdom in terms of its membership in the EU, and as a consequence the UK was ordered to drop the agreement in 2004. 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.

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).

Traffic and statistics

The operator of Heathrow, BAA, claims that Heathrow is the "world's busiest international airport", but it is only the world's second-busiest by total passenger traffic, after Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jacksonmarker, which is also an international airport. However, Heathrow has the highest number of international passengers.

In 2008 Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe in terms of total passenger traffic (13.6% more passengers than at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airportmarker and 25.6% more than at Frankfurt Airportmarker), but it was third behind Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt in terms of plane movements (12.9% fewer landings and take offs than at Charles de Gaulle, and 2.2% fewer than at Frankfurt). Heathrow airport was fourth in terms of cargo traffic (after Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Amsterdam Airport Schipholmarker).

Busiest International Routes out of London Heathrow Airport (2008)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % Change
1 John F. Kennedy International Airportmarker 2,802,870 1
2 Dublin Airportmarker 1,812,028 8
3 Amsterdam Airport Schipholmarker 1,709,135 5
4 Dubai International Airportmarker 1,652,441 5
5 Hong Kong International Airportmarker 1,493,864 3
6 Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airportmarker 1,489,167 17
7 Los Angeles International Airportmarker 1,461,079 4
8 O'Hare International Airportmarker 1,460,816 9
9 Frankfurt Airportmarker 1,271,421 12
10 Madrid-Barajas Airportmarker 1,152,504 2
11 Singapore Changi Airportmarker 1,066,606 1
12 Washington Dulles International Airportmarker 1,041,176 1
13 Toronto Pearson International Airportmarker 992,579 3
14 San Francisco International Airportmarker 985,575 5
15 Munich Airportmarker 983,287 8
16 Cape Town International Airportmarker 955,302 3
17 OR Tambo International Airportmarker 944,731 6
18 Copenhagen Airportmarker 939,950 4
19 Stockholm-Arlanda Airportmarker 893,181 1
20 Newark Liberty International Airportmarker 882,931 24
Countries/Regions with maximum passengers to/from London Heathrow Airport (2008)
Rank Country/Region Passengers handled % Change
1 United Statesmarker 12,601,114 10.3
2 Germanymarker 4,124,489 6.5
3 Canadamarker 2,531,315 2.9
4 Irelandmarker 2,337,223 15.9
5 Spainmarker 2,328,552 7.8
6 Francemarker 2,276,009 11.8
7 Indiamarker 2,143,714 3.9
8 United Arab Emiratesmarker 2,095,646 10.3
9 Italymarker 2,014,961 12.4
10 Netherlandsmarker 1,750,513 7.4
11 Switzerlandmarker 1,599,277 2.8
12 South Africa 1,515,856 5.4
13 Hong Kongmarker 1,493,864 2.8
14 Australia 1,272,470 5.1
15 Singaporemarker 1,066,606 0.8
16 Swedenmarker 1,044,514 0.2
17 Denmarkmarker 939,950 3.8
18 Portugalmarker 731,343 11.2
19 Norwaymarker 703,169 1.2
20 Russiamarker 696,571 4

Heathrow's facilities were originally designed to accommodate 55 million passengers annually according to BAA. With numbers currently approaching 70 million the airport has become crowded and subject to delays, for which it has been criticised in recent years, and in 2007 the airport was voted the world's least favourite alongside Chicago O'Haremarker in a TripAdvisor 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 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. BAA has also proposed building a third runway to the north of the airport, which would significantly increase traffic capacity (see Future expansion below).

However with passenger traffic at Charles de Gaulle growing by 5.8% to 59.3 million during the 12 months to September 2007, compared with Heathrow's fall of 0.4% to 67.6 million during the same period, it is possible that CDG - with its four runways operating at only 73.5% capacity - could overtake Heathrow by 2010.

Terminals, airlines and destinations


Terminal 1

Terminal 1 was opened in 1968 and was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May 1969. In 2005, a substantial redesign and redevelopment of the terminal was completed, which saw the opening of the new Eastern Extension, doubling the departure lounge in size and creating additional seating and retail space. The terminal has an area of 74,601m2. It is home to Heathrow's second largest carrier, bmi, and airlines belonging to the Star Alliance. It is set to be closed and demolished around 2013/14 to enable the construction of the second phase of the new Terminal 2, scheduled for completion in 2019.

Terminal 2 (closed for rebuilding)

Terminal 2 was Heathrow's oldest terminal, opening as the Europa Building in 1955, and closing on 23 November 2009; the last flight to depart was Air France flight AF1881 to Parismarker.

Terminal 2 had an area of 49,654m2 and saw 316 million passengers pass through its doors. Terminal 2 was originally designed to handle around 1.2 million passengers annually, but in its final years of operation it was often accommodating around 8 million passengers. Despite the best efforts of maintenance staff and various renovations and upgrades over the years, the building was becoming increasingly decrepit and unserviceable.

It is now in the early stages of being stripped out and prepared for demolition. It will be replaced by the first phase of a vast new Terminal 2 covering an area of 180,000m2. This new home for Star Alliance carriers is expected to open in 2014. With the demolition of the adjacent Queen's Building now nearly complete (this site will be subsumed into the project), works are well underway. A second phase, replacing Terminal 1, will open in 2019.

The construction of the new terminal envisages a complete realignment of piers more logically and the building of new ones on the now defunct cross-wind runway, in a site taking up roughly the same amount of space as Terminal 5. Formerly Heathrow East, the core terminal building (half of which will be built as phase one and half as phase two) will be known as Terminal 2A, and there will be two satellite buildings named Terminal 2B and Terminal 2C. Terminal 2B has been under construction since 2008. It is set to provide Heathrow with 16 additional stands and will be connected via an underground link to the main terminal building. Terminal 2C will be built as part of the second phase of the development.

The entire project will, when completed, have a capacity of 30 million passengers a year and will cost £1-1.5bn. The new Terminal 2 will produce 40 per cent less carbon than the buildings it is replacing. Large north-facing windows in the roof will flood the building with natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting without generating uncomfortable levels of heat in the building. Solar-gathering panels on the roof will further reduce the dependency on energy supplies. Additionally a new energy centre, partially fuelled by renewable resources, will provide heating and cooling for the building.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 was 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. The Oceanic Terminal was renamed as Terminal 3 in 1968 and was expanded in 1970 with the addition of an arrivals building. Other facilities were also added, including the UK's first moving walkways. In 2006, the new £105 million Pier 6 was completed in order to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas now operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380. Terminal 3 has an area of 98, 962m2.
The centralised waiting area in Terminal 3
Redevelopment of Terminal 3's forecourt by the addition of a new four lane drop-off area and a large pedestrianised plaza, complete with canopy to the front of the terminal building was completed in 2007; these improvements were intended to improve passengers' experiences, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic were assigned their own dedicated check-in area, known as 'Zone A', which features a large sculpture and atrium. BAA also have plans for a £1bn upgrade of the rest of the terminal over the next ten years which includes the renovation of aircraft piers and the arrivals forecourt. A new baggage system which connects 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 hope of improving design and layout of the area.

Terminal 4

Terminal 4 arrivals
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 105,481m2. Now home to theSkyTeam alliance as well as some unaffiliated carriers, it has recently undergone a £200m upgrade to enable it to accommodate 45 airlines. The forecourt has been upgraded to reduce traffic congestion and improve security. An extended check-in area and renovated piers and departure lounges have been delivered, two new stands to accommodate the Airbus A380 have been constructed, and a new baggage system has been installed.

Terminal 5

Terminal 5 is situated between the northern and southern runways at the western end of the Heathrow site, and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008 some nineteen years after its inception. It opened for passenger use on 27 March 2008. The first two weeks of the terminal's operation were disrupted by a number of 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.
Terminal 5 interior

Built at a cost of £4.3 billion, the new terminalmarker 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 first satellite (Concourse B) includes dedicated aircraft stands for the Airbus A380; Concourse C is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2010. In total, Terminal 5 has an area of 353,020m2, 60 aircraft stands and capacity for 30 million passengers annually. There are more than 100 shops and restaurants. A further building, similar in size to Concourse C, may yet be constructed to the East of the existing site, providing another 16 stands. This is likely to become a priority if British Airways' merger with Iberia proceeds, since both airlines will want to be accomodated at Heathrow under one roof in order to maximise the cost savings that the merger envisages.

The transport network around the airport has been extended to cope with the increase in passenger numbers. A dedicated motorway spur has been built from the M25marker 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 will be linked to the terminal by a personal rapid transit system, which will become operational in late Spring 2010. New branches of both the Heathrow Express and the Underground's Piccadilly Line serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 stationmarker.

Terminal 6 and Runway 3

Airlines and destinations

Cities with direct international airlinks with Heathrow.

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 moved so as to be grouped in terminals by airline alliance as far as possible :

Further moves are dependant on the airport's significant construction schedule but broadly they will be as follows:
  • In May 2010:
    • Terminal 5C will open and British Airways' flights to Gibraltar, Lisbon and Vienna will move there from Terminal 3. British Airways' flights to Bangkok, Barcelona, Helsinki, Madrid, Malaga, Singapore and Sydney are operated as codeshares with Finnair, Iberia and Qantas and will remain at Terminal 3.
  • In late 2013:
    • All Star Alliance airlines will move into Phase 1 of the new Terminal 2.
    • Terminal 1 will close and be 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.


Public transport


Heathrow Express train at Paddington station

Bus and coach

There is also a connection to Feltham railway stationmarker, for Richmond, Camberley, Bracknell, London Waterloo and Clapham Junction, by London Buses route 285 (route 490 from Terminals 4 and 5)

Dot2Dot and HotelHoppa services operate from each terminal. Other buses and coaches operate from a large central bus station serving Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and bus stations at Terminals 4 and 5.

Inter-terminal transport

Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are within walking distance of each other. Transport to Terminal 4 is by Heathrow Connect trains or bus and to Terminal 5 is by Heathrow Express trains or bus. On Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect and local buses (but not on the London Underground) the sections between Heathrow Central, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 are free of charge.

ULTra Personal Rapid Transport is currently being constructed as a trial shuttling passengers to and from Terminal 5. 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.


Taxis are available at all five terminals.


Heathrow is accessible via the nearby M4 motorway and A4 roadmarker (Terminals 1–3), the M25 motorwaymarker (Terminals 4 and 5), and the A30 road (Terminal 4). There are drop off and pick up areas at all terminals and short and long stay multi-storey car parks. Additionally, there are car parks (not run by BAA) just outside the airport; these are connected to the terminals by shuttle buses. Heathrow airport is also served by taxi services.

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. 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 died.
  • On 31 October 1950, British European Airways Vickers Viking 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 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.
  • On 7 January 1960, Vickers Viscount G-AOHU of British European Airways 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 Boeing 707 G-ARWE, departing to Australia via Singapore, suffered an engine fire just after take-off. The engine fell from the wing into a nearby gravel pit in Stainesmarker, 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.
  • On 3 July 1968, G-AMAD, an Airspeed Ambassador of BKS Air Transport, dropped a wing during 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 that were 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 G-AWXI of British Midland Airways 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 BEA548marker, 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 with 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.
  • On 17 January 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777-236ER, G-YMMM, operating as flight number BA038marker from Beijing to London, crash-landed at Heathrow. The aircraft landed on grass short of the south runway, 27L, then slid to the edge of the runway and stopped on the threshold, its undercarriage having collapsed. It was the first accident resulting in a Boeing 777 hull loss, and eighteen minor injuries were confirmed, with 13 people being admitted to hospital. In 2009 a second interim report from the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that ice may have formed in the fuel lines during the flight, restricting the flow of fuel to the engines. Air accident investigators called for a component on the Rolls-Royce Trent 800 series engine to be redesigned.

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 he was trying to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport.
  • On 19 May 1974, the IRA planted a series of bombs in the Terminal 1 car park. Two people were injured by the explosions.
  • On 26 November 1983, the Brinks Mat robbery occurred, in which 6,800 gold bars worth nearly £26 million were taken from the Brink's Mat vault near Heathrow. Only a fraction of the gold was ever recovered, and only two men were convicted of the crime.
  • 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 their unborn child Nizar Hindawi. The incident became known as the Hindawi Affairmarker.
  • On 21 December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 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 March, 10 March and 13 March) by the IRA, 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 flight.
  • 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.
  • On 17 May 2004, Scotland Yard'smarker Flying Squad foiled an attempt by seven men to steal £40 million in gold bullion and a similar quantity of cash from the Swissport warehouse at Heathrow.
  • On 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 lengthy delays and inconvenience to passengers. 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 activists protesting against the planned third runway managed to cross the tarmac and climb on top of a British Airways Airbus A320, which had just arrived from Manchester Airportmarker. At about 09:45 GMT the protesters unveiled a banner, saying "Climate Emergency – No Third Runway", over the aircraft's tailfin, and 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 later said that the incident had not been terrorism related.

Future expansion

British Airways aircraft seen here at Terminal 4.
(The airline has since moved to Terminals 3 and 5)
In January 2009 the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced that the UK government supports the expansion of Heathrow by building a third runway (2200 m) and 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 widespread opposition because of its greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of local communities, and noise and air pollution.

A plan to make Heathrow an international railway exchange has also been proposed with the potential construction of Heathrow Hub railway stationmarker.

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. 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.

The Conservative Party have announced that, should they win the 2010 General Election, they will prevent the construction of any third runway or further material expansion of the airport's operating capacity.

See also


External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address