web Musings of The Global Traveller

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heathrow East is now Heathrow Too Late

Heathrow East - the new terminal being built to replace terminals 1 & 2 at London Heathrow has been delayed (source BAA). This terminal will eventually have all Star Alliance flights, plus a handful of other airlines.

The original plan, back in 2005 & 2006 was to have the great LHR terminal shuffle completed this year, with most of Star Alliance housed in the existing terminal 1 building until Heathrow East opens. Heathrow East was due to open in time for the London Olympics in 2012. Some Star Alliance airlines, like Singapore, are not moving to terminal 1 were to go directly to Heathrow East when it opened.

This week the airport operator BAA admitted the first phase is not due to be completed until 2013 (on current plans). They've gone silent on when exactly the remaining Star Alliance airlines will move to the new terminal, raising suspicions it may not be until the second phase which is due 2019 (again, on current plans).

BAA have also renamed the project Heathrow Two, perhaps to dissociate with earlier expectations?

There is at least one positive with this announcement. I had feared an opening immediately before the Olympics would cause chaos (remember the opening of T5 at Heathrow a year ago?) at a time of record passenger numbers. That is now not going to happen.

The real bad news is the alliances will still not be housed in the same terminals for at least a decade, and the vastly different terminal experiences at London Heathrow will continue for longer. At least the skanky terminal 2 (old version) is gone already.


Steamboat Lion said...

Doubly too late, because now that the UK Competition Commission has told BAA to sell Gatwick, the only logical end state is Oneworld at LHR and Star Alliance at Gatwick. I'll put money on it I'm so confident of my prediction.

libertyscott said...

Gatwick has little room to grow, but is more likely to see migration from non-aligned airlines with low yields from Heathrow, and more low cost traffic. Assuming 3rd runway goes ahead at Heathrow, Gatwick will be even more a leisure based airport. I cannot imagine why UA, CO, LH, BD, SK, SQ, NZ, SA, TG etc would want to abandon LHR in favour of LGW.