With the opening of the new terminal at Heathrow, the airport will be able handle almost 45% more passengers. This could not have come sooner, when air traffic, especially the long distance inter-continental ones, has increased greatly in the past few years and the pressure on this international hub was starting to show. Also the existing terminals at Heathrow are scattered and packed. They were meant to handle 45 million passengers but they today handle over 68 million.
The one to gain the maximum from this is British Airways – once a leader in providing connections through Heathrow hub but which has lost out to competitors in recent years. This is especially significant in the new environment of the “open skies” treaty between U.S. and the European Union. This would remove the restrictions existing hitherto where only a few of the flights were allowed to service the U.S- Europe sector. From March 30th onwards any EU or U.S. airline can fly between the two continents as long as they can have another airline sell them slots.
The new terminal 5 (T5) will consolidate BA’s flight activities in one space. When BA vacates its current terminal, the new entrants (viz. Delta, Continental, US Airways, Northwest Airlines etc) in the Heathrow – US route can take its place. Heathrow currently handles nearly 25% of all the traffic between EU and U.S. Hopefully with more players in this route and thus more seats, the fares should go down – though there is the increase in fuel prices to contend with. T5 is slated to decrease the transfer time for BA passengers. Until a second annex comes up in 2010, many passengers at the terminal would have to take buses to the planes. Photo source -BAA.
Transfers in Heathrow is a pain since the terminals are located not as a contiguous structure but almost as free standing ones. BA would be moving most of its flights to terminal 5. This should make it easier for BA’s transfer passengers. For getting to other terminals from T5 there are coaches available every 6-8 minutes. The appropriate purple signs need to be followed. A short walk from the gates, in the centre of the building is the facility for flight connections. T5 has some frills like luxurious lounges, cinema screening (albeit small area), a number of workstations for passengers to work if required, wine and dine facilities, changing exhibitions in the EXPO area, multi-faith prayer rooms, meeting rooms etc. along with the usual fare of deli, coffee shops and shopping facilities. For first (and similar) class travelers there is the executive lounge, Galleries.
Though terminal 5 is massive the walking distances within are not much since all facilities are streamlined functionally. For taxi stands, parking spaces, public transport and coaches to and fro other terminals, directions are marked out and one just needs to follow the signs.
A map of the terminal is given here. Source – heathrowairport.com. The map gives locational details of shops, public spaces, facilities, travel services etc. at T5.
Related Article: Heathrow to London city centre