HEATHROW TERMINALS One, Two, Three and Four are to have a multi-million pound upgrade by 2012 so the whole airport can act as a showpiece for London Olympics visitors.
Operator BAA wants to bring the entire airport as close to the standard and character of its new Terminal 5 (T5), which is due to open in March 2008.
Airline BA will move out of congested existing terminals to T5, freeing up space for BAA to make dramatic improvements to ageing airport accommodation. BAA will also relocate 40 to 50 airlines.
'We are looking at 2012 as a very good focus. By 2012 we want to ensure that everyone is in their final home and we have taken the terminals to the places they need to be, ' said Heathrow business strategy director Mike Forster. Forster was previously T5 design director.
'We want to preserve Heathrow's position as Europe's number one airport and drive it to become an airport of world standing, ' he said.
In a poll of more than 5,000 world travellers published this week, Heathrow was voted the second worst international airport, with only New York's JFK rating lower.
Heathrow was disliked for being overcrowded, having long walking distances to aircraft and being difficult to navigate.
The size of the new investment is still being scoped, but the programme will address many of these issues, Forster said. 'Too many people are coming out of Heathrow saying 'that wasn't a great experience'.
'We have set ourselves a target of agreeing all the airline relocations by Christmas and we'll then decide what work to do following discussion with the airline groups.'