oneworld and BAA Heathrow are signing an historic agreement in a bid to enhance passenger experience following the opening of the London airport’s Terminal 5 in March 2008.
Currently, oneworld carriers - who account for more than 50 per cent of Heathrow’s traffic with 35 million passengers a year travelling on around 700 departures and arrivals a day - are split across all four of Heathrow’s terminals.
Under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) just signed between them and BAA Heathrow, their operations will be consolidated in the GBP4.2 billion (US$7.6 billion) Terminal 5 and in an up-graded Terminal 3, which is the closest of the existing terminals to the new facility. oneworld carriers will share adjacent check-in desks, piers and other facilities in Terminal 3.
BAA Heathrow describes the MoU as a key part of its strategy to co-locate airline alliances. It is currently investing significantly in Terminal 3 and its agreement with oneworldwill ensure that the transformation of Terminal 3 continues. To provide a better overall customer experience at Terminal 3, the building will undergo a modernisation programme with GBP200 million to be spent on passenger and baggage-related projects during the next seven years.
The check-in area will be reshaped and expanded to minimise congestion, make it easier for passengers to find their way around and provide more natural light. Latest technology and infrastructure will be incorporated into new baggage systems and other passenger services.
Connections between all oneworld member carriers’ flights in Terminals 3 and 5 will be smooth and as seamless as possible, assisted by a state-of-the-art underground baggage system that will link all Heathrow’s terminals, built in tunnels under the airport’s taxiways.
The MoU covers all seven of the existing oneworld member airlines serving Heathrow - British Airways, for which the airport is its home base, along with American Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific Airways, Iberia, Finnair and Aer Lingus. It also makes provision for all three of the carriers currently lining up to join the alliance - Japan Airlines, Malév and Royal Jordanian. The agreement makes provision for their growth in Terminal 3 as Heathrow’s overall capacity expands in the future.
British Airways will be the only airline housed at the new Terminal 5. The size and shape of its Heathrow schedule in 2008 will mean a small number of its services will be located at Terminal 3. These will include its departures to Australia and Spain, to maximise the cohesion of its joint services with oneworld partners Qantas and Iberia.
The UK carrier’s operations at London Heathrow are currently split between three terminals - 1, 3 and 4. Of the alliance’s other carriers, four are already based at Terminal 3 - American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and candidate members Japan Airlines and Royal Jordanian. The MoU will mean Aer Lingus and Finnair moving to join them from Terminal 1, Iberia and Malév from Terminal 2, and Qantas from Terminal 4.
British Airways will be the first to move, transferring its services into Terminal 5 when it opens in two years time. It is anticipated that the oneworld relocation into Terminal 3 will be completed by 2009, in line with the airport’s overall airline re-location plan.
The alliance’s co-location at London Heathrow will follow the transfer of all its member airlines serving Madrid into its new EUR6 billion Terminal 4 on 5 February 2006. It means oneworld be will operating from the world’s most modern, passenger-friendly and efficient facilities at its two main European hubs within just two years.
oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch said: “oneworld’s aims to bring the operations of our member airlines together at all key airports around the world wherever it make sense and is possible. Terminal 5’s opening at London Heathrow provides us with a golden opportunity to do just this at the alliance’s major European hub. This landmark agreement with BAA Heathrow ensures all of our airlines will be able to offer their customers a state-of-the-art passenger experience whether they are flying to or from London, or transferring there between oneworld airline flights.”
British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh said: “This agreement is a great step forward for the oneworld alliance, allowing much greater cohesion between all partner airlines at Heathrow. Customers will see real benefits as connections become more convenient, smoother and faster.”
BAA Heathrow Divisional Director Mick Temple said: “With the opening of Terminal 5 in 2008, Heathrow has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to co-locate our airline alliances and transform the whole airport into a world-class facility.”
The memorandum of understanding was signed by the Chief Executives of all the alliance’s member airlines - British Airways’ Willie Walsh, American Airlines’ Gerard Arpey, Qantas’ Geoff Dixon, Cathay Pacific’s Philip Chen, Iberia’s Fernando Conte, Finnair’s Jukka Hienonen and Aer Lingus’ Dermot Mannion plus oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch, with BAA’s Heathrow Divisional Director Mick Temple and Managing Director Heathrow Tony Douglas.