Transforming the passenger experience

Posted: 31 March 2009 | Steve Morgan, Capital Director, BAA | No comments yet

With a £6billion investment programme underway, BAA has a very clear goal: to transform its airports for its airline customers and passengers. Working over seven airports, the capital programme will deliver world class facilities, more space for security and improved environmental performance.

With a £6billion investment programme underway, BAA has a very clear goal: to transform its airports for its airline customers and passengers. Working over seven airports, the capital programme will deliver world class facilities, more space for security and improved environmental performance.


With over £4bn earmarked for Heathrow Airport alone over the next five years, Heathrow’s weathering facilities will be completely redesigned, rebuilt and refurbished. As one of the UK’s most important economic assets, and the UK’s only international hub airport, BAA’s ambitious plans will see passengers travelling through world class facilities of the standard of Terminal 5.

In the past, terminal capacity constraints at Heathrow have made radical renovation difficult, but Terminal 5, which opened in March 2008, provided BAA with a once in a lifetime opportunity to give the airport a major facelift. The move of 27 million passengers out of the existing terminals into the 35 million capacity Terminal 5, gave BAA the much needed space to redevelop its older infrastructure.

BAA is also taking advantage of the extra capacity provided by Terminal 5, to relocate airlines by alliance and demolish Terminal 2, in preparation for the construction of a brand new world-class terminal. Over 54 airlines will move terminals during 2008 and 2009. The result will be quicker flight connections and smoother, more relaxed passenger journeys. Airlines will also be able to take advantage of using shared alliance facilities. British Airways will be the sole occupants of Terminal 5, the Skyteam Alliance will move to Terminal 4, Oneworld Alliance will move to Terminal 3 and the Star Alliance will move to Terminal 1 and then relocate to Heathrow East following its completion.

Heathrow East

At the heart of Heathrow’s transformation plans is Heathrow East, which will replace one of the airports oldest buildings, and its first passenger facility, Terminal 2. In many ways it has withstood the test of time well, but the reality is that the building is out of date and can no longer meet the demands of a modern airport.

In 2005, BAA announced plans to demolish Terminal 2, and the Queens Building which is currently used for administration purposes, and replace it with a bright and modern passenger terminal valued at nearly £2 billion. Planning permission has been granted and work is underway to prepare for the construction of the building in 2010.

Heathrow East will not bring extra capacity or increase the number of flights at the airport. Its purpose is to simply replace outdated buildings and deliver greater service. It includes a new pier, located at right angles to the runway. This is a change in approach from Heathrow’s original layout and will mean aircraft have improved access from runway to stand, improving efficiency and reducing delays to passengers from unnecessary holding on the ground.

Heathrow East will be built on the site of Terminal 2, without interrupting Heathrow’s operations.

Western Campus

BAA plans to be a ‘silent and unobtrusive’ builder and the large programme of redevelopment work will take place around the world’s largest international airport. While T5 was built on a self-contained construction site, the next stage of Heathrow’s development will take place with minimal disruption to Heathrow’s operation, which inevitably results in some major logistical challenges. BAA is working together with airlines to ensure passengers travel without interruption, whilst continuing to improve the experience for passengers travelling through Heathrow’s terminals.

BAA is committed to invest over £120m in Terminal 3, £120m in Terminal 4 and £300m to build a second satellite building for Terminal 5.

Terminal 3, built in 1961, has recently benefited from extensive refurbishment and in December 2007 a £90m new forecourt and glass canopied piazza opened, providing a welcoming space for passengers to enter the building. A £34m new airside bus terminal is under construction, set to open in 2009.

Further work is underway to refurbish passenger and security areas to improve the passenger experience. Terminal 3’s redevelopment is the only programme that will deliver capacity improvements at Heathrow, enabling a further 17,000 passengers a day to travel through the building. To accommodate the additional passengers, the terminal layout will be redesigned, moving the baggage sorters from the main building to a newly constructed building airside.

An extensive construction programme is already underway at Terminal 4, following British Airway’s move to Terminal 5. By the end of 2009 Terminal 4 will be transformed, with a £100m new check-in area and forecourt creating an additional 6,000m2 of space. Two new stands will also be built to accommodate the new A380 aircraft.

The check in area is being remodelled to change it from a 12 airline facility to one that can accommodate more than 45 airlines, who will move in as part of Heathrow’s plan to relocate airlines in its terminals by alliance.

At Terminal 5, the final part of the construction process continues as T5C takes shape. The new satellite pier has 51,000 m2 of floor space, set over three levels above ground and three below ground. It includes sophisticated baggage systems, tunnels and stands at a cost of around £300m and is set to open in 2010. Terminal 5C will provide additional gates and stands and will enable BA to move its final flights from Terminal 3 into Terminal 5.

State of the art baggage system

BAA has earmarked a further £1bn to upgrade Heathrow’s baggage systems. Work has already begun to bore a new £300 million baggage tunnel, to connect Heathrow’s five terminals and significantly improve baggage performance. BAA has taken delivery of a five metre tunnel boring machine, which will build new tunnels under the runways and taxiways to link Terminal 5, Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. The tunnels will be furnished with a trolley system, which holds one item of baggage in a cart, which is transported by rail at speeds of up to 800 metres a minute.

Further work is underway to replace Terminal 3’s baggage system and refurbish the systems in Terminals 1 and 4. T5C and Heathrow East will be installed with the latest baggage technology. By 2012 Heathrow will have the world’s largest integrated baggage system, capable of effortlessly handling 110 million bags a year.

Upgrading Heathrow’s airfield

Airside infrastructure development is also an important part of BAA’s transformation plans, with £800m earmarked for airfield development. This includes preparing aircraft stands at Terminal 5C and supporting the taxiways and stands of the new Heathrow East development.

In 2008, BAA carried out a major programme of taxiway realignments, to make way for the building of Heathrow East’s satellite pier. Further work is underway to update older taxiways to accommodate new generation aircraft, such as the A380, which require stronger and wider surfaces.


BAA is also committed to investing in its other UK airports. Over the next four years Gatwick Airport will see a £1bn investment programme, to modernise the airport and ensure that the predicted growth in passenger traffic can be accommodated, whilst continuing to improve service for passengers.

An extensive renovation programme is underway to revamp Gatwick’s two terminals, a programme which started in 2006 and is set to complete in 2013.

Gatwick’s North Terminal will be extended to provide additional check- in facilities, reducing congestion in the terminal building and enhancing the passenger experience. A major programme of work is planned for the South Terminal and work is underway to improve landside passenger areas and to upgrade the baggage handling system.


BAA has ambitious plans for the future growth of Stansted Airport. In the next few years £88m will be invested to upgrade the airport’s assets, including a £15m project to replace the baggage system. In the long term, BAA has plans to make better use of the existing runway and to build a second runway and terminal building.

In its White Paper, The Future of Air Transport (published in 2003), the Government concluded that the best solution for meeting future demand was two additional runways in the South East of England: the first at Stansted, followed by one at Heathrow when strict environmental conditions can be met.

In April 2006, BAA submitted a planning application seeking permission for further growth: firstly to raise the current limit on the number of passengers that Stansted is permitted to serve from 25 million passengers per year to 35 million passengers a year, and secondly for the limit of air transport movements to be increased from 241,000 to 264,000. On 9 October 2008 the Government granted permission for the airport to grow.

BAA has also submitted plans for a second runway and terminal building at Stansted, which could be expected to see its first flights in 2015 and serve 68m passengers a year in around 2030.

The proposal has also been shaped by the thousands of responses received from residents, elected representatives, community organisations, businesses and travellers as part of several extensive consultations. It includes significant public transport schemes including improvements to bus and rail services, as well as better road links for the region.

A two-runway Stansted will mean greater choice for millions of passengers, as well as benefits for the economy and more jobs. It will also help ease the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England, at a time when airports are almost full.

The plans will be scrutinised at an independent public inquiry, that is expected to begin later this year and to last for a year or more. A recommendation will then be made to the Government, with a final decision around two and a half years from now. If permission is granted, then the second runway could be open in 2015.


BAA plans to spend over £300m over the next five years at its three Scottish Airports, to upgrade and renovate facilities and improve service for passengers.

Edinburgh, Scotland’s busiest airport, handles over nine million passengers a year and a £150m improvement programme is underway.

Key projects include; a £40m extension to the terminal building, creating a new departure lounge, a £16m runway resurfacing programme, which has recently completed on time and in budget, four new aircraft stands, a £10m new car hire centre and a £6m project to improve drainage on the airfield.

At Glasgow, BAA has earmarked £100m for improvements. This includes the recent construction of an ambitious £31m two storey terminal extension, the first phase of which opened in October 2008. It includes a purpose built improved security central search area, to reduce queue times and improve the passenger experience.

Further plans include; two new aircraft stands, taxiway strengthening, a £15m new pier and an £8m elevated walkway.
Work is also underway to build a 15km, £250m government funded rail link, which will connect the airport to Glasgow city centre and enable passengers quick and easy access to the terminal.

Aberdeen Airport handles over three million passengers and plays an important role as the world’s busiest commercial heliport, transporting workers to off shore oil rigs. BAA has earmarked £50m to improve facilities at the airport. Key projects include; a £10m runway resurfacing project, £8m to extend the runway, a £5m extension to the terminal building, creating a 50% larger arrivals hall, a new multi-storey car park and a new £2m terminal entrance.


Southampton, BAA’s smallest airport, has continued to grow rapidly since its first terminal opened in 1994 and work is underway to continue to improve services for both airlines and passengers. Over two million passengers use Southampton every year and this is set to continue to grow, with three million forecast for 2015.

Work is already underway to install more energy efficient air conditioning and to expand short stay car parking facilities to provide additional space. Recently completed works include the construction of additional baggage handling facilities and the installation of self service check-in machines, to make better use of the terminal building.

Sustainable development

BAA is committed to developing its airports responsibly. Using traditional materials and construction techniques could have significant environmental impacts. It is for this reason that BAA has sought to lead the industry in the use of sustainable construction materials. The heating, cooling and powering of airport terminals requires energy, that contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. BAA is working hard to reduce energy use in buildings by 30% by 2020.

Older terminals are being replaced with buildings which require less energy. Solar control glass and shading devices are being installed, which let natural light into buildings while minimising the amount of heat gain from sunlight. This reduces the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning. Ageing chillers, boilers and IT systems are being replaced with modern high efficiency alternatives to further reduce power consumption. Combined with other initiatives to reduce emissions from existing airport buildings, and from flights, BAA is taking every step to address the environmental impact of its operations.

Passengers and airlines are already taking advantage of the benefits of BAA’s £6bn capital programme over its seven airports. With improved check in facilities, more space for security and bright and modern facilities, BAA is working hard to making every journey better.

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