Third Busiest Airport in the World
But did you
know that Heathrow Airport was
named after the hamlet Heath Row,
which was demolished to make way
for the airport and was located
approximately where Terminal 3 now
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London boasts several airports. There are the Four main airports
of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, which have flights to
worldwide destinations. There is also London City Airport and
London Southend Airport.
London Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport, often referred to as Heathrow, is the
third busiest airport in the world, after Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare. However, for
international passengers alone, Heathrow is the world's busiest.
Heathrow is the United Kingdom's busiest and best-connected
airport, as well as being Europe's largest.
The airport was named after the hamlet Heath Row, which was
demolished to make way for the airport and was located
approximately where Terminal 3 now stands. Heathrow now has four
passenger terminals (numbered 1 to 4) and a cargo terminal.
Permission for a fifth passenger terminal (Terminal 5) was granted
in November 2001, and construction is now well under way. It is
expected to open in 2008, with construction of all satellite
buildings completed in 2011.
Heathrow is situated at the edge of Greater London. It is
surrounded by built-up areas to the north (Harlington, and
Cranford), to the east (Hounslow and Hatton), and to the south
(East Bedfont and Stanwell). To the west the M25 motorway
separates the airport from Colnbrook in Berkshire.
Gatwick Airport is London's second largest airport and the second
busiest airport in the UK after Heathrow, busiest single runway
airport and sixth busiest airport in Europe in terms of passengers
per year. It is located in Crawley, West Sussex, 5 km or 3 miles,
north of the town centre, and 46 km or 28 miles south of London.
In 2005, the airport handled over 32.6 million passengers, flying
to around 200 destinations. Charter airlines are generally not
allowed to operate from Heathrow and many use Gatwick instead as
their base. Many flights to and from the USA also use Gatwick
because of restrictions on transatlantic operations from Heathrow.
The airport is a secondary hub for British Airways and Virgin
Stansted Airport is a large passenger airport with a single runway
and hub for a number of major European low-cost airlines. It is
located in the Uttlesford District of the English county of Essex
about 30 miles (48 km) north-east of London. The airport is owned
and operated by BAA. It is the fourth busiest airport in the UK
and third-busiest airport in the London area after Heathrow
Airport and Gatwick Airport.
Stansted was constructed by the United States Army in 1942 as a
bomber base. By 1944, over 600 aircraft were stationed there. The
base played a major role in the Battle of Normandy.
After the war, the base was not needed; it was transferred to the
Air Ministry in 1947. The US military returned in 1954 to extend
the runway for a possible transfer to NATO but this was never
realised and the airport ended up under BAA control in 1966.
Due to the size of Stansted, aircraft can be isolated from the
terminal and the usual parking stands. Stansted also has
purpose-built facilities for dealing with hijacked planes. The
airport is the designated destination for at-risk flights
approaching London. On several occasions hijacked planes and
planes carrying bomb threats have been diverted to land at
Stansted, sometimes from other European countries. These incidents
have all ended with no loss of life. The airport frequently
practices handling major security alerts in conjunction with Essex
London Luton Airport
London Luton Airport, previously called Luton International
Airport, is an airport about 30 miles north of London in the town
of Luton, Bedfordshire. It is the fourth largest airport serving
the London market after Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, handling
approximately 9 million passengers per year.
A indicator of the importance of the airport to the economy of
Luton is that the town has the highest number of taxi cabs per
head of population in the United Kingdom. The airport has become
even more critical to the future of Luton given the recent closure
of the Vauxhall car factory.
London City Airport
London City Airport is a single-runway airport, intended for use
by STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) airliners, and principally
serving the financial districts of London. It is located on a
former Docklands site, in the London Borough of Newham in East
London, England, and was developed by the engineering company
Mowlem in 1986/87. London City is the fifth airport serving the
London area after Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.
London City Airport is small compared to the other 4 London
international airports but has proved important for thousands of
business travellers from London's Docklands and financial
district. Inside the terminal there are 26 check-in desks plus an
extra 5 self-service kiosks for BA, Air France and Lufthansa.
Unlike other large airports travellers benefit from the quick
turnarounds and the short pier, enabling travellers to check-in as
little as 15 minutes before takeoff. There are 3 car hire desks,
operated by Avis, Europcar and Hertz and chauffeur hire car desk
operated by Quay Cars. The terminal has landside and airside
restaurants and cafes, and duty free shops airside. The whole
terminal is WiFi enabled.
There are nine gates at London City Airport and a further five
stands connected via an airside bus. Outside there are two car
parks, one for short stay and one for long stay, free valet
parking and a new administration building called City Aviation
House, which opened in 2004.
London City Airport also has what is believed to be the closest
private jet centre to central London. In 2005 the centre was voted
by European Business Air News, as the best corporate aviation
London Southend Airport
London Southend Airport is a small airport in south east England,
in the county of Essex. It mainly operates charter and business
flights, and offers maintenance services for the aircraft used for
passenger services at larger airports. The airport is actually
closer to Rochford than it is to Southend. A frequent rail service
runs from Rochford to London (Liverpool Street) and buses and
taxis are available outside the existing terminal.
The only regular public air service is a scheduled flight to
Jersey on summer Saturdays. On June 7th 2006 a new regular service
commenced between Southend and Cologne, however this is not
available to the public, being operated by based airline
Flightline on behalf of a private business for the transportation
of its employees, presently on weekdays only. Aircraft can be
chartered from based airlines Flightline, Trans Euro Air and Fly
Now Air Charter. 'Southend Handling' can assist companies, groups
or individuals in chartering aircraft to or from the airport.
The airport's ambition to restart passenger flights dovetails with
Government aims outlined in the White Paper on airport development
and the strategic 'Thames Gateway' development. Undoubtedly the
airport will have a role to play in supporting the 2012 London
Olympics in East London.