A Spotlight of Heathrow Airport

28 Jan 21

Heathrow Airport tops the list of the busiest airports in the UK and the third busiest in the world, with an average of 67 million passengers travelling through the airport annually. While many people have visited this airport, there’s plenty of history and interesting facts that most passengers don’t know about. Let’s take a closer look at the UK’s busiest airport.


A humble beginning

You couldn’t imagine that this 3,000-acre airport started as a 150-acre plot of land. Heathrow Airport was initially proposed by British aero engineer and aircraft builder Richard Fairey in 1930 as a private airport to assemble and test aircraft. It was completed with a single grass runway and a handful of hastily built buildings, Fairey’s Great West Aerodrome was definitely a humble precursor to the busy Heathrow we know today. 

It wasn’t until World War II, when the government requisitioned the land surrounding the agricultural village of Heath Row including Richard Fairey’s Aredorome, that Heathrow started functioning as a busy airspace. In fact, the government used this ground to build RAF Heston, a base for troop-carrying aircrafts bound for the Far East. The base contained an RAF control tower and multiple runways the longest of which was 3,000 yards long. 


The early airport

By the time the war had ended the RAF didn’t require use of this land, and it was officially handed over to the Air Ministry in 1946 to create a new London civil airport. At this time the airport was known as ‘London Airport’ and didn’t get the name Heathrow until 1966.

Early passenger terminals were a complete contrast to todays, made from ex-military marquees which formed a tented village. These have been described as “primitive yet comfortable”, consisting of floral-patterned armchairs, settees and decorated with vases of fresh flowers. To reach the aircraft, passengers were required to walk along a wooden duckboard to protect their footwear from the muddy airfield. 

By the end of the first year in operation, around 63,000 passengers had travelled through London’s new airport. This number had risen by 1951 to 796,000 when British architect Frederick Gibbered was appointed to design permanent buildings for the now flourishing airport. 


Most popular destination

Nowadays Heathrow Airport connects 67 million passengers to 180 destinations worldwide serviced by 90 airlines annually. The airport claims that most popular destinations for Heathrow flyers are New York, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. However, the most popular destination for most flyers in Spain which sees 27 millions passengers each year travel through Heathrow Airport. This is a large contrast to 13 million passengers who travel to New York via Heathrow Airport. 


Exclusive Terminal 6

While Heathrow is the busiest airport in the UK, it’s a completely different story at one of its terminals. Terminal Six is a very small and exclusive terminal, a shocking contrast to the others at the airport. Reserved for the world’s most discerning customers including Royalty, Presidents and other VIPS. 

Passengers using the services at Terminal Six pay at least £3,300 for the privilege, a small price to pay for a relaxing airport experience. Included in the price, passengers can expect to be chauffeured from their house and be greeted by a VIP concierge team who will take care of check-in and luggage whilst passengers relax in the private lounge complete with food from a Michelin Star Chef, a personal shopper and a luxury car to drive them to the plane.


No flight zone

Did you know that there are never any flights during the night at Heathrow Airport? In fact, flights are grounded from 23:30 and do not resume until 04:30 in the morning. This time off during the night serves many purposes to get the airport ready for the following day including servicing security equipment, resolving engineering problems, restocking outlets and cleaning the airport. Additionally, Heathrow Airport introduced this no-flight zone to help with noise relief for nearby residents. 

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