The ceaseless chatter about Boris Island and airports in the Thames Estuary might lead one to assume that a moribund Heathrow is just waiting for the wrecker’s ball to arrive. Yet the airport is undergoing the biggest redevelopment in its history, and a year from now Terminal 2 will be welcoming its first passengers.
Keen to remind passengers of that fact, Heathrow’s operator has released some images showing how the £2.5bn new terminal will look when completed. Designed by Norman Foster’s practice, aesthetically the building echoes the Richard Rogers-designed Terminal 5 and is built to ease the bottleneck of passenger traffic that has seen Heathrow named among the world’s worst airports. The Telegraph quotes one senior official thusly: “You will probably be able to go from your car to a glass of Champagne in the departure lounge in about 20 minutes”, a prediction which might display a certain ignorance about the average traveller’s airport habits.
Once opened next year, Terminal 2 will be gradually expanded to take over Terminal 1’s capacity, the latter being demolished in 2016 to leave just T2 and T5 as the airport’s main hubs. Officials will hope that the opening, on 4 June 2014, avoids the embarrassing series of minor disasters that heralded T5’s inauguration in 2008. To that end, the terminal will have six months of testing prior to the opening day, while the airlines that will use it, mostly from the Star Alliance, will be introduced in phases.