Heathrow Airport - LHR
A Brief History
Heathrow started life in the 1930s and was named after the hamlet Heath Row, which was demolished to make way for it and was located approximately where Terminal 3 now stands. At first, it was a testing centre and Croydon Airport was the main airport for London.
In 1944 Heathrow came under the control of the Ministry of Air but the Royal Air Force never made use of the airport and control was transferred to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on 1 January 1946 - the first civil flight that day being to Buenos Aires, via Lisbon for refuelling.
The airport opened fully for civilian use on 31 May 1946 and by 1947 it had three runways, with three more under construction. The first concrete slab of the first modern runway was ceremonially placed by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and she also opened the first terminal building, the Europa Building (later Terminal 2), in 1955. Shortly afterwards the Oceanic Terminal (later Terminal 3) became operational. Terminal 1 was opened in 1968, completing the cluster of buildings at the centre of the Heathrow site. The location of the original terminals in the centre of the site has since become a constraint to expansion.
In 1977, the London Underground was extended to Heathrow - connecting the airport with Central London in just under an hour via the Piccadilly Line.
Terminal 4 was built away from the three older terminals, to the south of the southern runway. It opened in 1986 and became the home for British Airways.
Heathrow has the highest number of international passengers and is claimed BAA to be "the hub of the aviation world". On completion of Terminal 5 in 2007, it will be the world's busiest airport.
In 2004 Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe in terms of total passenger traffic but was third behind Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt in terms of plane movements. The airport was also third in terms of cargo traffic (24.8% less cargo than at Charles de Gaulle and 23.2% less than at Frankfurt).
In 2005 total passenger numbers rose 0.9% to 67.7 million. This low rate of growth reflects the fact that in advance of the completion of Terminal 5, growth in the London flights market is necessarily concentrated at London's other airports.