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No.7 Heathrow Terminal 5 opens

The Queen officially opened Heathrow Airport’s stunning £4.3bn Terminal 5 at lunchtime on Monday 14 March 2008, 53 years after opening the airport’s first passenger terminal in 1955.

Built on time and on budget, some 60,000 people worked a total of 100 million man hours to build Terminal 5 since construction work began in September 2002.

The project team successfully erected the UK’s biggest freestanding building; moved the 900t 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 30,000m2 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 and adjacent to the M25.

The Terminal 5 complex features 60 aircraft stands; two satellite buildings; rail links to the Tube and the Heathrow Express; and a new 3,800 space multi-storey car park. In addition a new spur road has been constructed linking the terminal to the M25.

It was a tremendous achievement, with many of the lessons learned on T5 brought to bear on other major construction projects across the UK - not least at Heathrow itself.

With the huge Terminal 5 operational, airport owner BAA had the space to juggle with capacity and attention turned to creating a more efficient configuration in the old centre, tearing down the old Terminal 2 and Queen’s Building and replacing them with a new £2.5bn building, T2A and a satellite building T2B. Contractor Ferrovial/Laing O’Rourke is racing along with construction of T2A and held a topping out ceremony last week.

T2B is also coming along nicely under the auspices of Balfour Beatty with both due to open to passengers in 2014.

And it doesn’t stop there: a £4.5bn phase two will extend the main Terminal 2 building northwards onto the existing Terminal 1 site. This phase, which will also include the construction of a second satellite building, T2C, will complete in 2019. It will put Heathrow amongst the elite.

As BAA chief executive Colin Matthews puts it: “Terminal 5 set a new standard for airport terminals. The completion of structural work on Terminal 2 puts us within touching distance of a future where Heathrow has some of the best passenger facilities in Europe.”

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