Her Majesty the Queen has officially opened BAA’s stunning new £4.3 billion gateway to the UK - Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5.
Built on time and on budget, the new terminal will open for business for up to 30 million passengers a year in thirteen days time on 27 March.
The Queen, who has a long association with Heathrow, opened the airport’s first passenger terminal, the Europa Building (now called Terminal 2), over half a century ago in 1955.
Accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen will initially be greeted by hundreds of airport and construction workers, in front of a backdrop of giant screens, depicting heroic shots celebrating the construction of Terminal 5.
The Royal Party will be met at the departures concourse of Terminal 5 by Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of airport operator BAA, which has funded the long-awaited development. Also present, will be the Rt. Hon Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, Rafael del Pino, Executive Chairman Grupo Ferrovial which owns BAA, and British Airways chairman Martin Broughton.
In his welcoming remarks at the opening ceremony, Sir Nigel Rudd will say: “Terminal 5 marks the start of a new beginning for Heathrow, for BAA and for our millions of passengers. It is, by any standard, a triumph of ambition, commitment and collaboration. It will breathe new life into Heathrow, allowing us to continue our transformation of the rest of the airport, and will put Heathrow and BAA back where they belong - at the leading edge of global travel.
“Terminal 5 will soon be the starting point for many exciting journeys and it will be a place too for many happy reunions, as travellers come home to loved ones. Today, before those journeys begin, we can look and admire a magnificent building - a source of huge pride for BAA as a company, but also for all those individuals who have invested so much of their lives in its creation.”
Prior to inaugurating Terminal 5, the Queen, alongside 800 invited guests including senior figures from government, the worldwide aviation industry, business and airport workers, will enjoy a musical finale by a 30-strong choir, led by award winning composer and musician Steve Sidwell. The choir will perform a specially commissioned choral composition, to mark the new terminal coming to life.
The bright, airy new terminal at Heathrow, with British Airways as sole airline occupant, is set to help transform the passenger experience at Heathrow. It will offer passengers a simple and stress-free experience through online check-in and fast bag drop facilities, with the benefit of state-of-the-art security and baggage facilities.
Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: “Terminal 5 is a fantastic facility and our customers will really enjoy the space, comfort and convenience it offers. We have exclusive use of the terminal and that will allow us to greatly improve the levels of service we can offer. The customer experience at Terminal 5 will rival, if not exceed, that at any airport in the world.”
“With the opening of Terminal 5, British Airways and BAA have an opportunity to make air travel, both into and out of the UK, once again a calmer and much more enjoyable experience. We intend to take full advantage of that opportunity and can’t wait to open the doors to our customers.”
Some 60,000 people have worked a total of 100 million man hours to build Terminal 5, since construction work began in September 2002.
The Terminal 5 project team has successfully erected the UK’s biggest free-standing building; moved the 900-tonne top cab of a new 87m high control tower 2km across the airfield; tunnelled over 13km for rail and baggage links; diverted two rivers; and installed over 30,000 sq metres of glass building facades. All Terminal 5’s footprint is contained within a former sludge works at the western end of the existing airport, situated between the two runways, adjacent to the M25.
The Terminal 5 complex features 60 new aircraft stands; two satellite buildings, the second of which (phase 2) will be completed by 2010; rail links to London Underground and Heathrow Express; a new multi-storey car park; and extensive landscaping.
Designed by 2006 Stirling Prize winner Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the building’s design meets the needs of the passenger from the moment they arrive at the airport to boarding their aircraft. It offers space, convenience, comfort and spectacular views across the airfield for virtually every step of the passenger’s journey.
Commenting on this, Sir Nigel Rudd said : “From every perspective, this is a landmark project and I am proud to think that Terminal 5 has become a model construction project, setting new, higher standards for an industry around the world.”