Heathrow or Gatwick?

By | Category: Travel news
panoramic view of Heathrow

the site for the proposed new runway at Heathrow is at the top of the picture

This year Heathrow celebrates its 70th birthday and is pinning its hopes on being given the go-ahead for its third runway. The airport currently runs at 98% capacity, and is the only hub airport in the United Kingdom where people can change planes without exiting the airport. Since the initial decision in 2010 and the subsequent Independent Airports Commission set up by David Cameron, Heathrow Airport Limited the company running Heathrow have taken on board the Commission’s conditions. They have also included their own additional expansion improvements. We have established a ‘Team Heathrow Family’ says Ian Hanson, Customer Service Director. ‘We are aware that passenger expectation is continually rising.’ If given the green light, the work needed will take another ten years, creating 180,000 jobs across the country, and up to £211bn in economic growth.

Planes currently take off every 45 seconds to over 180 destinations. With Brexit, it is a likely that there will be an increase in long haul destinations particularly to emerging markets. The new proposed runway, 3,500m long, will be to the north west of the airport and will increase flight capacity by 24,000 equating to an additional 130m passengers. A new generation of quieter aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is already being introduced. Standing by one of the runways I was able to personally experience the difference in noise levels between the older and newer planes.

gold nosed British Airways planef

Last month British Airways flew the Olympians back from Rio to Heathrow in a gold-nosed plane suggesting again that Heathrow was the airport of choice for passengers rather than Gatwick

Queues at immigration are of major concern for travellers at any airport. Adam Tyndall, Policy & Political Relations Manager at Heathrow assured me that although the Border is managed by the Home Office through Border Force, they are working closely together to make sure that security of the border is achieved with a good level of service.

Heathrow, which is privately funded, has invested in the modernisation of its terminals with opening of Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal in 2014 and the closure of Terminal One. Team Heathrow, the 76,000 people who work at Heathrow, are continually looking at ways of creating a more personalised service. This includes embracing new technology for those who want fast self-service, and is echoed in creating leisurely dining experiences as well as existing fast food restaurants. In Terminal 2, tucked away on the Upper Level of the international departure hall, I ate at the all-female chefs’ restaurant Gorgeous Kitchen where, with its floor to ceiling windows, I was able to enjoy a leisurely meal while watching the planes.

The Heathrow Express is a fifteen minute journey into central London, Paddington as opposed to Gatwick’s 45 minutes into Victoria. With the Heathrow expansion the airport has pledged to encourage a greater use of public transport. This includes upgrades to the Piccadilly Line, the advent of Cross Rail in 2019, and Western Rail access anticipated by 2021.

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