BA hopes for end to Heathrow hassle

The long overdue Terminal Five expansion to London's Heathrow airport is finally open, holding out the promise of on-time flights and reduced lost luggage, but cargo looks to gain little from the development. Peter Conway reports.

At least part of what the UK media dubs "the Heathrow hassle" was due to come to an end on 27 March, when the London airport’s fifth passenger terminal officially opened for business.

The US$6.3 billion new facility has a capacity of 30 million passengers a year – equivalent to the throughput of London’s second airport, Gatwick, or nearly half of Heathrow’s current 68 million passenger throughput. For the first time, it allows British Airways to bring almost all its Heathrow flights together in one location.

Almost all, because Terminal 5, which was first proposed 15 years ago and was delayed by an interminable planning enquiry, is already too small for the flag carrier. Though BA and UK airports operator BAA boast that it is five times the size of terminal four, one of BA’s current homes, T5 is only big enough to accommodate 90 per cent of BA flights.

Services to Australia, New Zealand, Bangkok and Singapore flights will thushave to be housed in nearby Terminal 3, along with the flights of BA’s Oneworldalliance partners, Qantas, Iberiaand American Airlines. However, thatis still an improvement on the previoussituation, when BA services were splitbetween Terminals 1 and 4, with oneof the world’s busiest runways betweenthem.