Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 will open to the world’s passengers on Thursday 27 March 2008 – exactly one year from today. Airport operator BAA and British Airways are today announcing the opening date for Terminal 5 (T5), which will become a new home for British Airways, serve around 30 million passengers a year and be a stunning new gateway to the UK.
With 366 days to go (leap year in 2008), over 90% of construction-related work is complete and the project remains on time and on budget.
An intensive six-month period of proving trials will begin in September this year, when over 16,000 people will be recruited to act as passengers and thoroughly test every aspect of the building including car parking, check-in, baggage systems, IT systems and security.
“London is a world city, a global financial centre and needs a world class airport,” said Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of BAA Heathrow.
“T5 is already a testament to the skill and hard work of the thousands of people, including architects, planners, construction workers, airport and airline staff, who have together made the building happen. With just 366 days to go there is still much to do, but we’re confident we are on track to deliver a world-class experience that Heathrow’s passengers deserve.
“68 million passengers will fly through Heathrow this year in aging terminal facilities designed to accommodate around 45 million. When T5 opens and 30 million passengers move out of existing terminals, for the first time we will have space to breath in the central terminal area and have a once in a lifetime opportunity to redevelop the rest of the airport and bring it up to a comparable standard to T5.
“By 2012, we aim to have either re-built or redeveloped our existing facilities and returned Heathrow to its rightful status as the world’s leading international airport. We will be proud to welcome the world’s Olympians through our gates.”
Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, who will be the sole airline occupant of T5, said: “This is a historic breakthrough which will transform the airport experience for our customers. T5 will mean less queuing, faster baggage systems and better punctuality. For comfort and convenience, it will exceed the best you can find at any other airport.
“The next 12 months will be extremely busy as we continue with our preparations for the move. Our plans are on track and we will be ready for 27 March 2008 when the first flights begin.”
T5’s first passengers will step off a British Airways morning arrival from Hong Kong and around 40,000 customers will go through the new terminal on its first day of operation.
The T5 complex features 60 new aircraft stands, two satellite buildings (the second to be completed by 2010), rail links to London Underground and Heathrow Express, a new multi-storey car park and extensive landscaping.
Designed by 2006 Stirling Prize winner the Richard Rogers Partnership, T5 combines functionality with finesse. The building’s design meets the needs of the passenger from the moment they arrive at the airport to boarding their aircraft. It offers space, convenience, comfort and spectacular views across the airfield for virtually every step of the passenger’s journey.
Construction on the £4.3 billion terminal complex began in 2002. Since when, the project has successfully moved 9 million cubic metres of earth; erected the roof of UK’s biggest free-standing building; transported the 900-tonne top cab of a new 87-metre-high control tower 2 kilometres across the airfield; bored over 13 kilometres of tunnels for rail and baggage; diverted two rivers; and installed over 30,000 square metres of glass facades. All T5’s footprint is contained within a former sewage works at the western end of the existing airport, situated between the two runways, adjacent to the M25.
Terminal 5 features
T5 is the biggest free standing building in the UK. The main terminal building is 40 metres high, 396 metres long and 176 metres wide. Its single span 18,500 tonne roof was lifted into position over eleven months, and is held up by 22 huge steel leg structures. The facades are fully-glazed with 5,500 glass panels which lean out at 6.5 degrees, which combined with the wave-form roof, give the building its distinct shape.
The T5 baggage system is the biggest, single-terminal baggage handling system in Europe. It is highly sophisticated but has been designed for performance and reliability so only includes the best of proven technology. Transfer and late bags, are assigned a priority routing through a separate high speed baggage system and delivered direct to the aircraft stand of the departing flight.
T5 has is own dedicated railway station with six platforms, two for the Heathrow Express, two for London Underground’s Piccadilly Line and two which are built and safeguarded in advance of a scheme to link Heathrow by rail to the West (AirTrack, a scheme under consideration would connect to the west with the main line at Staines.)
British Airways is moving towards 80% of passengers using online check-in or using a self service kiosk when they arrive at the terminal. The latest technology is also being applied to fast bag drop facilities. There will be 96 self service kiosks and 140 customer service desks, including 96 fast bag drops. Passenger flows have been extensively modelled to ensure there is minimal queuing at every stage.
Waste heat from the existing combined heat and power station at Heathrow is being piped to T5 through an underground pipeline and will provide T5 with 85% of its heat on demand.
Water from T5’s rainwater harvesting and groundwater boreholes is being used for non-potable uses, reducing the demand on the mains water supply by 70%. The harvesting scheme re-uses up to 85% of the rainfall that falls on the T5 campus.
Prestigious retailers signed up for T5 include Harrods, Paul Smith, and Tiffany and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey is opening his first airport-based restaurant there.
The first people recruited to work at T5 are already in post and on site – facilities managers responsible for maintaining the building when it is in operation. A small army of cleaners are now beginning the mammoth cleaning process, making sure the terminal’s extensive steel work and glass facades are gleaming for passengers when it opens.