London Heathrow Airport

Airport Information

London Heathrow Airport

In 1930, British aero engineer and aircraft builder Richard Fairey paid the Vicar of Harmondsworth £15,000 for a 150-acre plot to build a private airport to assemble and test aircraft. Complete with a single grass runway and a handful of hastily erected buildings, Fairey’s Great West Aerodrome was the humble precursor to the world’s busiest international airport, Heathrow.

During World War II the government requisitioned land in and around the ancient agricultural village of Heath Row, including Fairey’s Great West Aerodrome, to build RAF Heston, a base for long-range troop-carrying aircraft bound for the Far East. An RAF-type control tower was constructed and a ‘Star of David’ pattern of runways laid, the longest of which was 3,000 yards long and 100 yards wide.

Work demolishing Heath Row and clearing land for the runways started in 1944. However, by the time the war had ended the RAF no longer needed another aerodrome and it was officially handed over to the Air Ministry as London’s new civil airport on 1 January 1946. The first aircraft to take off from Heathrow was a converted Lancaster bomber called Starlight that flew to Buenos Aires.

The early passenger terminals were ex‑military marquees which formed a tented village along the Bath Road. The terminals were primitive but comfortable, equipped with floral-patterned armchairs, settees and small tables containing vases of fresh flowers. To reach aircraft parked on the apron, passengers walked over wooden duckboards to protect their footwear from the muddy airfield. There was no heating in the marquees, which meant that during winter it could be bitterly cold, but in summer when the sun shone, the marquee walls were removed to allow a cool breeze to blow through.

By the close of Heathrow’s first operational year, 63,000 passengers had travelled through London’s new airport. By 1951 this had risen to 796,000 and British architect Frederick Gibberd was appointed to design permanent buildings for the airport. His plan saw the creation of a central area which was accessed via a ‘vehicular subway’ running underneath the original main runway. The focal point of Gibberd’s plan was a 122ft-high control tower.

There was also a passenger terminal called the Europa Building and an office block called the Queens Building.

By 1961 the old terminal on the north side had closed and airlines either operated from the Europa terminal (later renamed Terminal 2) or the Oceanic terminal (now Terminal 3).

Terminal 1 opened in 1969, by which time five million passengers a year were passing through the airport as the jet age arrived with Boeing 707s, VC10s and Tridents taking travellers from Heathrow to and from all parts of the world.

The 1970s marked the decade when the world became even smaller thanks to Concorde and wide-body jets such as the Boeing 747. As the decade drew to a close, 27 million passengers were using Heathrow annually. Demand for air travel also created the need for another terminal, Terminal 4, which opened for business in 1986.

Today Heathrow is the world’s busiest international airport and the hub of the civil aviation world. Over 67 million passengers travel through the airport annually on services offered by 90 airlines travelling to over 180 destinations in over 90 countries.

By the time Heathrow celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006 it had handled around 1.4 billion passengers on over 14 million flights.

The start of operations at Terminal 5 in March 2008 marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Heathrow. The brand new Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal opened for business on 4 June 2014. The first airline to move in was United Airlines.

Airport News

Star Alliance Commemorates 10 Years at Heathrow Terminal 2

Star Alliance member airlines operate at Heathrow T2 – popularly referred to as Star Alliance terminal by passengers – facilitating over 120 departures every day. Celebrates with complimentary sweet treats for passengers travelling on Star …

Heathrow marks ten years of Terminal 2 by celebrating the wonderful habits Brits embrace when on ‘airport time’.

Heathrow Terminal 2 is celebrating its ten-year anniversary with an indulgent nod to the ‘no rules at the airport’ TikTok trend, which has racked up over six million views in the last six months, by …

From Dundee to Tennessee: Heathrow launches Whisky Festival to celebrate holidaymakers’ favourite spirits

Heathrow’s annual Whisky Festival kicks off on 15 April with a line-up of immersive events Travellers will have front-row seats to expert-led masterclasses and exclusive product launches from iconic whisky brands Whisky is the favourite …

Heathrow announces changes to Executive team

This morning, we are announcing several changes to Heathrow’s Executive team as we move forward with the next chapter of our strategy to be an extraordinary airport, fit for the future.   After 15 years at Heathrow, …

Additional Airline Routes with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Vueling Coming to Heathrow this Summer

As the season changes, Heathrow is delighted to announce 6 new airline routes available to passengers this summer  As of 31 March, our summer season kicks off and passengers will have more options than ever …

Heathrow leaps into record February with busiest winter half-term

Heathrow served a record number of passengers in February as 5.8m people flew through the UK’s hub airport last month. The busiest ever February half-term saw more than 2m passengers at Heathrow. Winter sun won over …

Heathrow Airport reports strong start to the year

6 million people travelled through Heathrow in January, including 196,661 passengers on Blue Monday (15 January) who were seeking a jet-setting start to 2024. 2024 has got off to a smashing start with Heathrow being named …

Thanksgiving and Diwali celebrations deliver Heathrow a November passenger boost picture Thanksgiving and Diwali celebrations deliver Heathrow a November passenger boost

6.1 million passengers travelled through Heathrow during November, swapping frosty mornings for winter sun and reuniting with friends and family to spend holiday festivities together, also: Traffic to North America peaked ahead of Thanksgiving with …

Christmas lands at Heathrow: 10 things to look out for

Christmas has landed at Heathrow this week as it announces the arrival of its magical festivities, including live ballet and choir performances, brand-new Christmas decorations, visits from Santa himself, and hundreds of prizes to be …

Jeté Away: Heathrow hosts ballet performances throughout December to celebrate festive reunions

Six professional dancers from some of the UK’s most prestigious companies are performing a specially choreographed piece for passengers in Heathrow Arrivals throughout December    The troupe includes a former First Artist with the Royal Ballet …

Virgin Atlantic flies world’s first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK

Heathrow Airport, London, Friday 24 November 2023: Flight100, Virgin Atlantic’s world first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) transatlantic flight by a commercial airline is fuelled ahead of its take off from London Heathrow to New …

Menzies Aviation expands cargo business at London’s Heathrow Airport

Menzies Aviation, the leading service partner to the world’s airports and airlines, and an Agility company, has renewed and secured several new key cargo contracts with airlines at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) including Thai Airways …

Heathrow hosts 25th Business Summit in celebration of local SMEs

Heathrow brought together hundreds of local business leaders to celebrate and connect the SMEs and entrepreneurs who keep the UK’s hub airport flowing. The 25th Heathrow Business Summit, which took place on 16 November, welcomed nearly …

Heathrow paving the way forward with lower carbon concrete trial

Heathrow paving the way forward with lower carbon concrete trial UK’s hub becomes one of the world’s first airports to trial use of lower carbon concrete Partnership between Heathrow, Jacobs, Ecocem, Cemex, Dyer & Butler …

Summer gets off to great start at Heathrow - Results for the six months ended 30 June 2023

Great service and resilient demand drive a strong start to 2023 – Our teams welcomed 37 million passengers in the first half, which included some of the busiest days on record. We are giving great …

Leading airport boss appointed as new Heathrow CEO

The Board of Heathrow Airport has confirmed the appointment of Thomas Woldbye, currently the boss of Copenhagen Airport, as the person to replace John Holland-Kaye when he steps down later this year after nearly 10 …

Heathrow increases lead over EU rivals for flight connections to the USA

The triple bank holiday in May, helped drive monthly passengers at Heathrow up to 6.7 million Heathrow currently has more daily flights than ever before between the UK and USA as airlines switch capacity to …

Heathrow Releases Commemorative Luggage Tag for King's Coronation

12,000 souvenir luggage tags will be given out to Heathrow passengers next week  London-based artist Morag Myerscough designed the tag  The colourful memento is the latest example of the airport’s long history of supporting and celebrating …

Heathrow grew more than any other airport in the world last year as service gets back to pre-pandemic levels

Heathrow grew more than any other airport in the world last year – Passenger numbers in 2022 trebled to 62 million, as borders reopened in March after two years of closures which were tougher in …

Heathrow Trials Use of eGates for Children During Busy Half Term Getaway

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow is back to its best, with passenger satisfaction scores meeting or exceeding 2019 levels. We are giving a warm welcome to families over the half term getaway by delivering excellent …

John Holland-Kaye to stand down as CEO of Heathrow Airport

After nine years as CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye has informed the Board of his intention to stand down as CEO during 2023. The Board would like to thank John for his exceptional leadership since …

Heathrow to give back to one million people within its local communities

Heathrow unveils new Giving Back Programme with a commitment to help one million local people by the end of the decade The new programme includes £6.5 million of funding to local charities and community groups …

Heathrow Airport Reports Busiest Christmas Getaway Since 2019

Heathrow delivers smooth service during busiest Christmas getaway since 2019 Christmas and New Year reunions fuelled passenger growth during December, with more than 5.9 million passengers travelling in the month – up 90% compared with …

Contact

Heathrow Airport
London
United Kingdom
TW6
  • 0844 335 1801

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