British Airways has started operations from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 with its first arrival to, and first departure from, the newly-opened complex early today.
Flight BA026 from Hong Kong, a Boeing 747-400 with 283 passengers, became the inaugural arrival at about 04:50 while the first departure, an Airbus A321 operating flight BA302, left for Paris Charles de Gaulle at 06:20.
Shortly before operations started BA oversaw the transfer of 27 short-haul aircraft and hundreds of ground-service vehicles from Terminal 1 and Terminal 4.
These included more than 560 baggage trailers, tugs and conveyors, plus 240 cargo containers, 16 ground-power units, 10 sanitation trucks and more than 120 other cars and vans.
“Such a time-limited move of this magnitude has never taken place before at any UK airport, let alone at the country’s global hub,” says BA.
Some 380 flights – a total of 190 departures and 190 arrivals – will be served at Terminal 5 today, all but 30 of which will be short-haul and domestic connections. A second transfer from Terminal 4, featuring BA long-haul flights, will take place on 30 April and bring the number Terminal 5 services to more than 500.
BA chief executive Willie Walsh says: “The new terminal gives BA a great opportunity to offer the highest levels of service and put Heathrow back on the global travel map.”
The £4.3 billion ($8.6 billion) structure can handle 30 million passengers per year and comprises Terminal 5A and a satellite, Terminal 5B, with a total of 50 aircraft stands. A second satellite, Terminal 5C, will open in 2010, taking the number of stands to 60.
“We have waited over 20 years to welcome passengers to Terminal 5 and during that time Heathrow has become increasingly congested,” says airport operator BAA Heathrow’s managing director Mark Bullock.
He says the opening is a “turning point” for the airport and adds: “Terminal 5 signifies a new beginning for Heathrow and I am immensely proud that we open the doors of this magnificent building today, exactly when we said we would.”
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news