This is the change London’s Heathrow Airport has been waiting for

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Heathrow Airport

London’s Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest hubs in the world and serves as a major point to connect traffic from Asia and Africa to North America.

As Britain’s main international airport, Heathrow has been working hard to upgrade its facilities. In recent years, the airport has opened two new terminal buildings and has conducted significant renovations to others.

The greatest constraint on the airport, however, has been its lack of runways. Though more than 72 million passengers pass through Heathrow every year, the facility still operates using just two runways.

If Heathrow’s latest expansion plans are approved, though, things are about to change for the airport.


Though Heathrow’s roots can be traced back as early as 1930, the foundations of the modern facility we know today were laid during World War II.


During the war, the facility was known as RAF Heston and featured a military control tower surrounded by a series of runways configured in a “Star of David” formation.


In 1946, the facility was reconfigured for civilian use.


At first, the airport wasn’t much to look at. Its passenger terminals were just tents.

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Heathrow Airport

By the 1960s, the airport’s permanent terminal buildings entered service. Heathrow also abandoned its “Star of David” layout, keeping only the northern and southern runways.

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Heathrow Airport

Heathrow development came just in time for the arrival of the jet set! Along with celebrities such as The Beatles and …

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Heathrow Airport

… Clint Eastwood.


Today the airport is the primary international hub serving London and much of England.

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Flickr/Tony Hisgett

The airport is home to Virgin Atlantic Airways and …

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Heathrow Airport

… British Airways.

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Heathrow Airport

For nearly three decades, it was also home to British Airways’ fleet of Concorde supersonic jetliners.


In recent years, Heathrow has opened its new Terminal 2 and …

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REUTERS/Toby Melville

… Terminal 5 facilities.

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Heathrow Airport

But what hasn’t changed in the past half-century are its two runways. All the while, rival airports such as JFK in New York and Charles de Gaulle in Paris each boast four runways.

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Heathrow Airport

But that may be ready for an update if the airport’s new expansion proposal is approved this December.

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Heathrow Airport

The expansion would include a third runway built at the north of the airport; it would increase Heathrow’s capacity to 740,000 flights a year from 470,000.

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Heathrow Airport

The airport also wants to build a new terminal to the west of Terminal 5.

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Heathrow Airport

The expansion would also dramatically alter Heathrow’s central terminal area.

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Heathrow Airport

The transformed central terminal area will feature new hotels, office buildings, and …

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Heathrow Airport

… green space for passengers.

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Heathrow Airport

The new hotel facilities will be located just a few minutes away from the terminals.

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Heathrow Airport

The proposed development plan also calls for improvements to road and rail access to the airport.

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Heathrow Airport

The expansion of London Heathrow has been a contentious topic. Though there have been discussions about building a new airport for decades, the British government recommended improvements to Heathrow as the preferred way to increase airport capacity.

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Heathrow Airport