Air Transport World

T5 prepares to go live.(AIRPORTS)

ON MARCH 27, THE FIRST FLIGHTS will start operating through London Heathrow's new Terminal 5, heralded by British Airways as "a new era in overseas travel." The opening of T5, as it is known, launches the biggest reshuffle in the London gateway's history and will see almost 60 airlines participating in a major move that will redistribute carriers among existing Terminals 1, 3 and 4 largely along alliance lines. Terminal Two and the adjacent Queens Building are scheduled for demolition and will be replaced with an all-new facility, currently dubbed Heathrow East, that will have a handling capacity equivalent to that of the new T5.

In a single move, T5 transfers up to 27 million passengers out of the massively congested central terminal area--which consists of three aging terminals--and T4, freeing up badly needed capacity there. But it is just BA passengers who will get to sample the delights of the new facility. After much wrangling, BA secured use of T5 as the sole tenant and the right to determine which other airlines, if any, should be invited to use it in the event that BA no longer needs the full capacity. However, this seems unlikely in the immediate future.

Once it has been developed fully, T5 will be able to handle up to 35 million passengers a year. On opening day it will consist of the main terminal building (T5A) and one satellite concourse (T5B), capable of handling around 30 million. A second concourse (T5C) will go operational in May 2010. Some 92% of BA flights will operate from T5 with the remaining 8% (representing 2.5-2.75 million passengers) operating out of T3, which following refurbishment becomes home to Virgin Atlantic Airways plus the oneworld alliance airlines. …

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