Published on July 9, 2016
Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) is a major international airport in Hillingdon, London, England, United Kingdom. Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, as well as the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and sixth busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. In 2015, it handled a record 75 million passengers, a 2.2 percent increase from 2014.
Heathrow lies 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) 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 owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which itself is owned by FGP TopCo Limited, an international consortium that includes Ferrovial Group (25.00%), Qatar Holding LLC (20.00%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (12.62%), Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (11.20%), Alinda Capital Partners (11.18%), China Investment Corporation (10.00%) and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) (10.00%) . London Heathrow is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic.
In September 2012, the UK government established the Airports Commission, an independent commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies to examine various options for increasing capacity at UK airports. The commission shortlisted two options for expanding Heathrow in its interim report in 2013, along with a third option for expanding Gatwick Airport. The final report, published on 1 July 2015, backed a third runway at Heathrow.
A Qantas Boeing 747-400 on approach to London Heathrow 27L runway.
Heathrow is 14 mi (23 km) west of central London, near the south end of the London Borough of Hillingdon on a parcel of land that is designated part of the Metropolitan Green Belt. The airport is surrounded by the built-up areas of Harlington, Harmondsworth, Longford and Cranford to the north and by Hounslow and Hatton to the east. To the south lie Bedfont and Stanwell while to the west Heathrow is separated from Slough in Berkshire by the M25 motorway. Heathrow falls entirely under the Hounslow post town of the TW postcode area.
As the airport is 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.
Along with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend and London City, Heathrow is one of six airports with scheduled services serving the London area, although only Heathrow and London City are within Greater London.
For a chronicled history of Heathrow Airport, see History of London Heathrow Airport.
Heathrow Airport started in 1929 as a small airfield (Great West Aerodrome) on land south-east of the hamlet of Heathrow from which the airport takes its name. At that time there were farms, market gardens and orchards there: there was a “Heathrow Farm” about where Terminal 1 is now, a “Heathrow Hall” and a “Heathrow House”. This hamlet was largely along a country lane (Heathrow Road) which ran roughly along the east and south edges of the present central terminals area.
Development of the whole Heathrow area as a very big airfield started in 1944: it was stated to be for long-distance military aircraft bound for the Far East. But by the time the airfield was nearing completion, World War II had ended. The government continued to develop the airfield as a civil airport; opened as London Airport in 1946 and renamed Heathrow Airport in 1966. The masterplan for the airport was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, who designed the original terminals and central area buildings, including the original control tower and multi-faith chapel of St George’s.