Heathrow Airport London
Heathrow Airport London
Heathrow is like the British capital – multi-cultural, overloaded and eclectic, yet always sympathetic,
There is no need for world famous architects, nor for brilliant building projects and terminals here. The British Empire honors the self-sacrifice and dedication of her subjects. Heathrow is the biggest airport on the island and one of the top three in passenger volume in the world. During its 64 years in existence it has been transformed from a peaceful meadow, where the high-ranking passengers waited in a tent before launching out on a somewhat adventurous journey, into the present-day’s giant station for 68 million passengers per year – flying for business, entertainment or both.
The thousands of workers who take care of the trouble-free operation of this airport remain unknown, because, if everything is fine and
life goes well, are names really important? Heathrow is located southwest of London, about 22 kilometers from the center of the metropolis. The position of its runways causes arriving airplanes to pass over the city on their approach. This is terrific for the travelers, who have the chance to see the English capital from a bird’s eye view. Yet, prior to the strict European noise regulations, this was likely quite annoying for the early residents of the city, who were constantly shaken by the jet engines’ vibrations. Everything would have been quite different if Hitler had not waged the notorious air war against England. In 1944, as a part of the measures for air supremacy, the British War Office decided to develop the zone around the village of Heathrow as a major transport center to be at the disposal of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The war ended, however, and the construction of runways and facilities, which had begun during the war, warranted a change in the function of the site so it was turned into the main center for civil aviation, replacing the Heston and Hanworth Park aerodromes of the time. In the beginning, “the main center for civil aviation” consisted of a field regularly mowed short instead of a runway, and a huge military tent instead of a terminal. As time passed and aviation developed new facilities began to emerge on the site. The original plan was for the construction of six runways in the form of a pentagram, so that there would be suitable conditions for take-offs and landings despite differing air currents. Later, that plan was abandoned and the runways reduced to only three. (Today there are two; the third was converted into a taxiing route long ago).
During the 1950s the military tent was replacedby a building, which was opened in person by Queen Elizabeth II in 1955. The old terminal was replaced by Terminal 2 (currently being remodeled). The original construction of the airport placed the passengers’ building at the center of the three-runway composition. The passengers of that time were people of leisure, who had no need to park (they were driven by their personal chauffeurs in limousines); nor did anyone dare to doubt their honesty, which today has caused the need for security checks – including removal of shoes, outer clothing, and belts. The growth in traffic during the 1960s caused the construction of two more terminals – the present-day. Terminals 1 and 3. Terminal 3 was once known as the Oceanic Terminal – intended for the landing of international flights. There was a helicopter landing pad on the roof of the terminal for those passengers who preferred the convenience of that type of transport into the city of London.
The busiest British airport is destined to deal with ever increasing traffic and the expansion of its operations. There is a tunnel between the terminals where the Heathrow Express runs now. In the 1960s moving walkways were used for first time in Terminal 3. At the end of the 1980s, during PM Thatcher’s cabinet, Heathrow Airport was privatized and today it is operated by BAA. The change in ownership brought about the creation of one more terminal – 4, located some 20 minutes by bus from the central part of the airport. In 2008 the last terminal, Terminal 5, was opened; it only serves British Airways flights. The Heathrow of today has convenient links – by train, subway or via the M25 highway – with the center of London. The airport’s terminals are known for their duty free commerce and the variety of stores from world famous brands. One of the first changes accomplished by the private owner of the airport was the design of the route, which passengers follow after they have checked in for their flights. They are compelled to pass by the window displays – something that is now obligatory for all modern airport complexes.
Heathrow Airport is located about 22 km from central London. You may reach the city via the M25 and M4 highways. It is easy and fast to use the Heathrow Express – a high speed train that will take you to London Paddington Station in about 15 minutes. Before you get on the airplane, you will have the opportunity to see numerous stores and cafes. Heathrow is an extremely crowded transport center. Hotels from all the worldwide chains are built around it and are always full of business passengers from all ends of the earth, despite their remoteness from the city. If you travel on business, it might be a better idea to find your accommodations here, rather than in central London.