25 March 2008

Heathrow Terminal 5 Knighted by the Queen

Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is officially open and ready for business after the Queen “knighted” the £4.3bn project complete in front of an 800 audience and hailed by a 30-strong choir. The terminal has been described as "a 21st Century gateway to Britain" and will begin operating on 27 March, offering extra passenger capacity but not additional flights.

The Queen, who opened the airport's first terminal building – now Terminal 2 – in 1955, seemed delighted the project was complete and loved the "bright, airy space and clean, efficient layout". Transport secretary Ruth Kelly in a try to complement the Queen’s comments, noted Terminal 5 was "destined to become one of London's most iconic transport buildings" and exalted its stunning design and spectacular scale underlining it was one of the greenest airport buildings in the world.
Terminal 5, designed by 2006 Stirling Prize winners Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, was a gigantic project which running since September 2002 employed around 60,000 people doing a total of 100 million man hours. Few obstacles to overcome were diversion of two rivers, constructing what is claimed to be the UK's largest free-standing building and tunneling 13km for rail and baggage links.
But it is not yet complete, as the official opening is of the project's Phase 1, including Terminals 5A and 5B. Phase 2 with Terminal 5C added , is set to open in 2010 and will increase the aircraft stands from 50 to 60.
The question though still remains the same. Are those impressive construction accomplishments, plus two satellite buildings, rail links to London Underground and the Heathrow Express, and a new multi-storey car park going to benefit the passengers. Well, BAA says it will simplify the process of checking in for flights with online check-in, fast baggage dropping facilities and state-of-the-art baggage handling.

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