|IATA: LHR ICAO: EGLL|
|Owner||Heathrow Airport Holdings|
|Operator||Heathrow Airport Limited|
|Serves||London, United Kingdom|
|Hub for||British Airways|
|Focus city for||Virgin Atlantic|
|Elevation AMSL||83 ft / 25 m|
|Coordinates||51°28′39″N 000°27′41″WCoordinates: 51°28′39″N 000°27′41″W|
Heathrow Airport, also known as London Heathrow (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL), is a major international airport in London, United Kingdom. Heathrow is the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, as well as the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and the seventh busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. It is one of six international airports serving London region. In 2019, it handled a record 80.8 million passengers, a 0.9% increase from 2018 as well as 475,861 aircraft movements, a decrease of 1,743 from 2018. The airport facility is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings.
Heathrow lies 14 miles (23 km) west of Central London, and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers 12.27 square kilometres (4.74 sq mi). The airport is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic.
In September 2012, the Government of the United Kingdom established the Airports Commission, an independent commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies to examine various options for increasing capacity at UK airports. In July 2015, the commission backed a third runway at Heathrow, which the government approved in October 2016. However, the United Kingdom Court of Appeal rejected this plan for a third runway at Heathrow, due to concerns about climate change and the environmental impact of aviation.
Heathrow is 14 mi (23 km) west of central London, on a parcel of land that is designated part of the Metropolitan Green Belt. It is located 3 mi (4.8 km) west of the town of Hounslow, 3 miles south of Hayes, and 3 miles north-east of Staines-upon-Thames.
The airport is surrounded by the villages of Harlington, Harmondsworth, and Longford to the north and the neighbourhoods of Cranford and Hatton to the east. To the south lie Feltham, Bedfont and Stanwell while to the west Heathrow is separated from Wraysbury, Horton and Windsor in Berkshire by the M25 motorway. Heathrow falls entirely within the boundaries of the London Borough of Hillingdon, and under the Twickenham postcode area, with the postcode TW6. The airport is located within the Hayes and Harlington parliamentary constituency.
As the airport is located west of London and as its runways run east–west, an airliner’s landing approach is usually directly over the conurbation of London when the wind is from the west, which is most of the time.
Along with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend and London City, Heathrow is one of six airports with scheduled services serving the London area.
Central waiting area in Terminal 5Concorde G-BOAB in storage at HeathrowFour aircraft on the approach to Heathrow runway 09LHeathrow’s control tower with a departing Virgin AtlanticBoeing 747-400 in the background.British Airways aircraft at Terminal 5C
Heathrow Airport is used by over 80 airlines flying to 185 destinations in 84 countries. The airport is the primary hub of British Airways and is a base for Virgin Atlantic. It has four passenger terminals (numbered 2 to 5) and a cargo terminal. Of Heathrow’s 78 million passengers in 2017, 94% were international travellers; the remaining 6% were bound for (or arriving from) places in the UK. The busiest single destination in passenger numbers is New York, with over 3 million passengers flying between Heathrow and JFK Airport in 2013.
In the 1950s, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles in the shape of a hexagram with the permanent passenger terminal in the middle and the older terminal along the north edge of the field; two of its runways would always be within 30° of the wind direction. As the required length for runways has grown, Heathrow now has only two parallel runways running east–west. These are extended versions of the two east–west runways from the original hexagram. From the air, almost all of the original runways can still be seen, incorporated into the present system of taxiways. North of the northern runway and the former taxiway and aprons, now the site of extensive car parks, is the entrance to the access tunnel and the site of Heathrow’s unofficial “gate guardian”. For many years the home of a 40% scale model of a British Airways Concorde, G-CONC, the site has been occupied by a model of an Emirates Airbus A380 since 2008.
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 organize and lead prayers at certain times in the prayer room.
The airport has its own resident press corps, consisting of six photographers and one TV crew, serving all the major newspapers and television stations around the world.
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).
Policing of the airport is the responsibility of the aviation security unit of the Metropolitan Police, although the army, including armoured vehicles of the Household Cavalry, has occasionally been deployed at the airport during periods of heightened security.
Full body scanners are now used at the airport, and passengers who object to their use after being selected are required to submit to a hand search in a private room. The scanners display passengers’ bodies as a cartoon-style figure, with indicators showing where concealed items may be. The new imagery was introduced initially as a trial in September 2011 following complaints over privacy.
Following widespread disruption caused by reports of drone sightings at Gatwick Airport, and a subsequent incident at Heathrow, a drone detection system was installed airport-wide to combat possible future disruption caused by the illegal use of drones.
During the Covid-19 outbreak of 2019–2020, Heathrow Airport saw a vast reduction in services, and announced that as of Monday 6 April 2020, the airport would be reducing to a single runway operations (only using one runway at a time), which would change on a weekly basis, and that it would be closing Terminals 3 and 4, moving all remaining flights into Terminals 2 or 5.
The airport’s newest terminal, officially known as the Queen’s Terminal, was opened on 4 June 2014. Designed by Spanish architect Luis Vidal, it was built on the site that had been occupied by the original Terminal 2 and the Queens Building. The main complex was completed in November 2013 and underwent six months of testing before opening to passengers. It includes a satellite pier (T2B), a 1,340-space car park, an energy center[clarification needed] and a cooling station to generate chilled water. There are 52 shops and 17 bars and restaurants.
Terminal 2 is used by all Star Alliance members which fly from Heathrow (consolidating the airlines under Star Alliance’s co-location policy “Move Under One Roof”). Aer Lingus, Eurowings, Flybe and Icelandair also operate from the terminal. Tianjin Airlines is a possible new member at Terminal 2. The airlines moved from their original locations over six months, with only 10% of flights operating from there in the first six weeks (United Airlines’ transatlantic flights) to avoid the opening problems seen at Terminal 5. On 4 June 2014, United Airlines became the first airline to move into Terminal 2 from Terminals 1 and 4 followed by All Nippon Airways, Air Canada and Air China from Terminal 3. Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, South African Airways, and TAP Air Portugal were the last airlines to move in on 22 Octo er 2014 from Terminal 1.
The original Terminal 2 opened as the Europa Building in 1955 and was the airport’s oldest terminal. It had an area of 49,654 m2 (534,470 sq ft) and was designed to handle around 1.2 million passengers annually. In its final years, it accommodated up to 8 million. A total of 316 million passengers passed through the terminal in its lifetime. The building was demolished in 2010, along with the Queens Building which had housed airline company offices.
Terminal 3 opened as the Oceanic Terminal on 13 November 1961 to handle flight departures for long-haul routes for foreign carriers to the United States, Asia and other Far Eastern destinations. 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 to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo; Emirates and Qantas operate regular flights from Terminal 3 using the Airbus A380.
Redevelopment of Terminal 3’s forecourt by the addition of a new four-lane drop-off area and a large pedestrianised plaza, complete with canopy to the front of the terminal building, was completed in 2007. These improvements were intended to improve passengers’ experience, reduce traffic congestion and improve security. As part of this project, Virgin Atlantic was assigned its own dedicated check-in area, known as ‘Zone A’, which features a large sculpture and atrium.
As of 2013, Terminal 3 has an area of 98,962 m2 (1,065,220 sq ft) and in 2011 it handled 19.8 million passengers on 104,100 flights. Terminal 3 is home to Oneworld members (with the exception of Iberia, which uses Terminal 5, and Malaysia Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Qatar Airways, All of which use Terminal 4), SkyTeam members Delta Air Lines and Middle East Airlines, all new airlines, and a few unaffiliated carriers.
Opened in 1986, Terminal 4 is situated to the south of the southern runway next to the cargo terminal and is connected to Terminals 2 and 3 by the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel. The terminal has an area of 105,481 m2 (1,135,390 sq ft) and is now home to the SkyTeam alliance, with the exception of Delta Air Lines and Middle East Airlines, which use Terminal 3, Oneworld carriers Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways, and to most unaffiliated carriers. It has undergone a £200m upgrade to enable it to accommodate 45 airlines with an upgraded forecourt to reduce traffic congestion and improve security. Most flights that go to Terminal 4 are flights coming from Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East as well as a few flights to Europe. An extended check-in area with renovated piers and departure lounges and a new baggage system were installed, and two new stands were built to accommodate the Airbus A380; Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways operate regular A380 flights. El Al operates regular Boeing 787 flights.
Terminal 5 lies between the northern and southern runways at the western end of the Heathrow site and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008, some 19 years after its inception. It opened to the public on 27 March 2008, and British Airways and its partner company Iberia have exclusive use of this terminal. The first passenger to enter Terminal 5 was a UK ex-pat from Kenya who passed through security at 04:30 on the day. He was presented with a boarding pass by the British Airways CEO Willie Walsh for the first departing flight, BA302 to Paris. During the two weeks after its opening, operations were disrupted by problems with the terminal’s IT systems, coupled with insufficient testing and staff training, which caused over 500 flights to be cancelled. 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 £4.3 billion, the terminal consists of a four-story main terminal building (Concourse A) and two satellite buildings linked to the main terminal by an underground people mover transit system. The second satellite (Concourse C), includes dedicated aircraft stands for the Airbus A380. It became fully operational on 1 June 2011. Terminal 5 was voted Skytrax World’s Best Airport Terminal 2014 in the Annual World Airport Awards.
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). It has 60 aircraft stands and capacity for 30 million passengers annually as well as more than 100 shops and restaurants. It is also home to British Airways’ Flagship lounge, the Concorde Room, alongside four further British Airways branded lounges.
A further building, designated Concourse D and of similar size to Concourse C, may yet be built to the east of the existing site, providing up to another 16 stands. Following British Airways’ merger with Iberia, this may become a priority since the combined business will require accommodation at Heathrow under one roof to maximise the cost savings envisaged under the deal. A proposal for Concourse D featured in Heathrow’s most recent capital investment plan.
The transport network around the airport has been extended to cope with the increase in passenger numbers. New branches of both the Heathrow Express and the Underground’s Piccadilly line serve a new shared Heathrow Terminal 5 station. A dedicated motorway spur links the terminal to the M25 (between junctions 14 and 15). The terminal has 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, the Heathrow Pod, which became operational in the spring of 2011. Within the terminal complex, an automated people mover (APM) system, known as the Transit, is used to transport passengers between the satellite buildings.
As of July 2019, Heathrow’s four passenger terminals are assigned as follows:
|Terminal||Airlines and alliances|
|Terminal 2||Star Alliance and few non-aligned airlines|
|Terminal 3||Oneworld (except Iberia, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, but including some British Airways destinations), Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, Middle East Airlines and several non-aligned airlines|
|Terminal 4||SkyTeam (except Delta Air Lines and Middle East Airlines), Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and most non-aligned airlines|
|Terminal 5||British Airways (most destinations) and Iberia|
Following the opening of Terminal 5 in March 2008, a complex programme of terminal moves was implemented. This saw many airlines move to be grouped in terminals by airline alliance as far as possible.
Following the opening of Phase 1 of the new Terminal 2 in June 2014, all Star Alliance member airlines (with the exception of new member Air India which moved in early 2017) along with Aer Lingus and Germanwings relocated to Terminal 2 in a phased process completed on 22 October 2014. Additionally, by 30 June 2015 all airlines left Terminal 1 in preparation for its demolition to make room for the construction of Phase 2 of Terminal 2. Some other airlines made further minor moves at a later point, e.g. Delta Air Lines merging all departures in Terminal 3 instead of a split between Terminals 3 and 4.
Terminal 1 opened in 1968 and was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in April 1969. Terminal 1 was the Heathrow base for British Airways’ (BA) domestic and European network and a few of its long haul routes before Terminal 5 opened. The acquisition of British Midland International (BMI) in 2012 by BA’s owner International Airlines Group meant British Airways took over BMI’s short-haul and medium-haul destinations from the terminal. Terminal 1 was also the main base for most Star Alliance members though some were also based at Terminal 3.
Terminal 1 closed at the end of June 2015, the site is now being used to extend Terminal 2 which opened in June 2014. A number of the newer gates used by Terminal 1 were built as part of the Terminal 2 development and are being retained. The last tenants along with British Airways were El Al, Icelandair (moved to Terminal 2 25 March 2015) and LATAM Brasil (the third to move in to Terminal 3 on 27 May 2015). British Airways was the last operator in Terminal 1. Two flights of this carrier, one departing to Hanover and one arriving from Baku, marked the terminal closure on 29 June 2015. British Airways operations have been relocated to Terminals 3 and 5.
The following airlines operate regular scheduled passenger flights at London Heathrow Airport:
|Aer Lingus||Belfast–City, Cork, Dublin, Shannon|
|Air Canada||Calgary, Montréal–Trudeau, Ottawa, St. John’s, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver|
|Air China||Beijing–Capital, Chengdu, Shanghai–Pudong|
|Air France||Paris–Charles de Gaulle|
|Air India||Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai|
|All Nippon Airways||Tokyo–Haneda|
|American Airlines||Boston (resumes 25 October 2020), Charlotte, Chicago–O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Raleigh/Durham|
|Beijing Capital Airlines||Qingdao|
|Biman Bangladesh Airlines||Dhaka, Sylhet|
|British Airways||Aberdeen, Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Accra, Amman–Queen Alia, Amsterdam, Athens, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baltimore, Bangalore, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse, Beijing–Daxing, Belfast–City, Berlin–Tegel, Billund, Bologna, Boston, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cairo, Cape Town, Chennai, Chicago–O’Hare, Copenhagen, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dammam, Delhi, Denver, Doha, Dubai–International, Dublin, Durban, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gibraltar, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Grand Cayman, Hamburg, Hanover, Hong Kong, Houston–Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Innsbruck, Inverness, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jeddah, Johannesburg–O.R. Tambo, Kraków, Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuwait City, Lagos, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Leeds/Bradford, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Lyon, Madrid, Mahé, Málaga, Manchester, Marseille, Mexico City, Miami, Milan–Linate, Milan–Malpensa, Montréal–Trudeau, Moscow–Domodedovo, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Mumbai, Munich, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Nashville, Nassau, Newark, Newcastle upon Tyne, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Nice, Osaka–Kansai, Oslo–Gardermoen, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pisa, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR) (begins 1 June 2020), Prague, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Riyadh, Rome–Fiumicino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Santiago de Chile, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Sofia, Stockholm–Arlanda, Stuttgart, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tenerife–South, Tokyo–Haneda, Toronto–Pearson, Toulouse, Valencia, Vancouver, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw–Chopin, Washington–Dulles, Zagreb, Zurich|
Seasonal: Bastia, Bodrum (begins 23 May 2020), Brindisi, Calgary, Chania, Charleston, Corfu, Dalaman (begins 23 May 2020), Faro, Figari, Grenoble, Ibiza, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Ljubljana, Malé (begins 25 October 2020), Marrakesh, Muscat, Mykonos, Newquay (begins 2 July 2020), Olbia, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Perugia (begins 2 July 2020), Preveza/Lefkada, Pristina (begins 4 July 2020), Pula, Rhodes (begins 4 July 2020), Salzburg, Santorini, Split, Zakynthos
|Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong|
|China Eastern Airlines||Shanghai–Pudong|
|China Southern Airlines||Beijing–Daxing (begins 13 July 2020), Guangzhou, Sanya (ends 18 June 2020), Wuhan (ends 10 July 2020), Zhengzhou|
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Salt Lake City|
|El Al||Tel Aviv|
|Ethiopian Airlines||Addis Ababa|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi|
|Eurowings||Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart|
|EVA Air||Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Taipei–Taoyuan|
|Iran Air||Tehran–Imam Khomeini|
|Kenya Airways||Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta|
|Kuwait Airways||Kuwait City|
|LATAM Brasil||São Paulo–Guarulhos|
|LOT Polish Airlines||Warsaw–Chopin|
|Malaysia Airlines||Kuala Lumpur–International|
|Middle East Airlines||Beirut|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore|
|Qantas||Melbourne, Perth, Singapore, Sydney|
|Royal Air Maroc||Casablanca, Rabat|
|Royal Brunei Airlines||Bandar Seri Begawan|
|Royal Jordanian||Amman–Queen Alia|
|Scandinavian Airlines||Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm–Arlanda|
|South African Airways||Johannesburg–O.R. Tambo|
|Swiss International Air Lines||Geneva, Zurich|
|TAP Air Portugal||Lisbon|
|Tianjin Airlines||Chongqing, Tianjin, Xi’an|
|United Airlines||Chicago–O’Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles|
|Vietnam Airlines||Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City|
|Virgin Atlantic||Atlanta, Boston, Delhi, Havana (begins 9 June 2020), Hong Kong, Johannesburg–O.R. Tambo, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai, New York–JFK, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Tel Aviv, Washington–Dulles|
Seasonal: Barbados, Cape Town (resumes 25 October 2020)
|Cathay Pacific Cargo||Delhi, Hong Kong, Paris–Charles de Gaulle|
|DHL Aviation||Amsterdam, Brussels, East Midlands, Frankfurt, Leipzig/Halle, Madrid–Barajas, Milan-Malpensa, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Porto, Stockholm-Arlanda|
|Emirates SkyCargo||Dubai–Al Maktoum|
|Korean Air Cargo||Seoul–Incheon, Paris–Charles de Gaulle|
|Qatar Airways Cargo||Basel/Mulhouse, Doha|
|Singapore Airlines Cargo||Amsterdam, Sharjah, Singapore|
The head office of Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly BAA Limited) is located in the Compass Centre by Heathrow’s northern runway, a building that previously served as a British Airways flight crew centre. The World Business Centre Heathrow consists of three buildings. 1 World Business Centre houses offices of Heathrow Airport Holdings, Heathrow Airport itself, and Scandinavian Airlines. Previously International Airlines Group had its head office in 2 World Business Centre.
At one time the British Airways head office was located within Heathrow Airport at Speedbird House before the completion of Waterside, the current BA head office in Harmondsworth, in June 1998.
To the north of the airfield lies the Northern Perimeter Road, along which most of Heathrow’s car rental agencies are based, and Bath Road, which runs parallel to it, but outside the airport campus. This is nicknamed “The Strip” by locals, because of its continuous line of airport hotels.
Many buses and coaches operate from the large Heathrow Central bus station serving Terminals 2 and 3, and also from bus stations at Terminals 4 and 5.
All terminals lie within the Heathrow Free Travel Zone with free travel between the terminals. Terminals 2 and 3 are within walking distance of each other. Transfers from Terminals 2 and 3 to Terminal 4 and 5 are provided by Heathrow Express trains and the London Underground Piccadilly line. Direct transfer between Terminals 4 and 5 is provided by London Buses routes 482 and 490.
Transit passengers remaining airside are provided with free dedicated transfer buses between terminals.
The Heathrow Pod personal rapid transit system shuttles passengers between Terminal 5 and the business car park using 21 small, driverless transportation pods. The pods are battery-powered and run on-demand on a four-kilometre track, each able to carry up to four adults, two children, and their luggage. Plans exist to extend the Pod system to connect Terminals 2 and 3 to remote car parks. Terminal 5 airside Transit System
An underground automated people mover system known as the Transit operates within Terminal 5, linking the main terminal with the satellite Terminals 5B and 5C. The Transit operates entirely airside using Bombardier Innovia APM 200 people mover vehicles.
The Hotel Hoppa bus network connects all terminals to major hotels in the area.
Taxis are available at all terminals.
Entrance at the southern end of the M4 Motorway spur, showing a scale model of Concorde, replaced since 2008 by the Emirates A380 scale model.
Heathrow is accessible via the nearby M4 motorway or A4 road (Terminals 2–3), the M25 motorway (Terminals 4 and 5) and the A30 road (Terminal 4). There are drop-off and pick-up areas at all terminals and short- and long-stay multi-storey car parks. All the Heathrow forecourts are drop-off only. There are further car parks, not run by Heathrow Airport Holdings, just outside the airport: the most recognisable is the National Car Parks facility, although there are many other options; these car parks are connected to the terminals by shuttle buses.
Four parallel tunnels under the northern runway connect the M4 Heathrow spur and the A4 road to Terminals 2–3. The two larger tunnels are each two lanes wide and are used for motorised traffic. The two smaller tunnels were originally reserved for pedestrians and bicycles; to increase traffic capacity the cycle lanes have been modified to each take a single lane of cars, although bicycles still have priority over cars. Pedestrian access to the smaller tunnels has been discontinued, with the free bus services being used instead.
There are (mainly off-road) bicycle routes to some of the terminals. 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. Cycling is not currently allowed through the main tunnel to access Terminals 2 and 3 (Terminal 1 closed in 2015).