The Arora Group has unveiled its alternative proposals for terminal expansion at Heathrow airport, with a plan to integrate new passenger facilities with the existing T5 into a “single hub campus”.

The group submitted “cheaper plans” for the development of a third runway in July last year, and has now unveiled separate proposals for new terminal buildings at Heathrow.

Arora says that its “Western Hub” would cost £14.4bn, compared to Heathrow Airport Ltd’s (HAL) redevelopment and expansion scheme, which Arora said has recently been costed by the Airports Commission at £31bn. This figure is disputed by HAL, which says its plans would cost around £14bn.

The plan would see new terminal capacity concentrated on the western side of Heathrow, between the existing Terminal 5 and the M25, avoiding the need to redevelop existing terminals in the Heathrow central area (T2 and T3), which Arora said “would be far more expensive and disruptive”.

A new central concourse would serve as “a single front door” for all 85m passengers using the Western Hub, which the group said would be “a magnificent and vibrant grand space, designed to amaze passengers and capture the excitement of air travel”.

This concourse would provide “easy access” to both T5 and the new T6, with “an elevated bridge concourse providing panoramic views over the airfield for passengers, and easy navigation underneath for aircraft”.

Outlining the key features of its proposal, the Arora Group said the plans would offer:

  • Strategic Location – all new terminal capacity located on the western side of Heathrow, close to the M25, “avoiding bottlenecks associated with the M4 spur road and tunnel and far less costly and disruptive to develop”
  • Integrated Design – new terminals concentrated in a single Western Hub campus, “avoiding the inconvenience and confusion associated with separate independent terminals”
  • Integrated Rail infrastructure – a new integrated rail/air interchange within the central concourse, linking Heathrow to existing and new rail networks
  • Passenger convenience – Western Hub design would minimise walking distances and connection times, and “check-in” at the rail interchange would enable passengers to check-in earlier in their journey. Road passengers for both T5 and the new T6 would be served by a single drop off and pick-up location
  • Cost efficiency – “significantly lower development cost, arising from more efficient design and layout, leading to lower charges for airlines and passengers”
  • Operational Efficiency – designed in close association with airlines to ensure operational efficiency, including a layout for aircraft to increase operational capacity and to ensure maximum direct access to aircraft for passengers
  • Superior experience – “smart experiential-focused design, based on learnings from the best airport terminals in the world to ensure that the Western Hub will be cutting-edge when opened and will transform passengers’ ease of journey and experience”
  • Robust technology adaptation – latest automation technologies including efficient baggage systems, smart security, automated gates, tugs and airbridges

Arora said that its bid challenges “the monopoly control of HAL which has to date assumed the sole right to undertake Heathrow expansion”, and would give Heathrow “the best chance of success when competing with other hub airports, such as Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris-Charles De Gaulle, post-Brexit”.

It added that while the group is bidding to undertake Heathrow expansion “as a whole”, today’s plans relate only to new terminal development, which Arora believes could be undertaken separately within expansion overall.

The plans would see a phased increase in capacity at the Western Hub, from the existing 35 million passengers per year at T5, initially adding 35 million with the introduction of T6A and T6B, followed by a further 15 million in phase 2 with T6C.

Combined with existing capacity at T2 and T3, this would take total capacity to 130 million passenger per year.

Responding to Arora’s proposals, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO said:

“We welcome the fact that the Arora Group support a northwest runway at Heathrow, but we’re bemused that they have chosen now to release new plans which look a bit like the emperor’s new clothes – the more you look, the less there is to see. Not only do their proposals now cost more, but they show a complete lack of understanding of airport operations and disregard for those living closest to the airport. If these were serious plans, they should have been submitted for public scrutiny to the independent Airports Commission years ago, along with 50 other competitive proposals. The fact that Mr Arora didn’t do so then, makes you question his motives now.

“I have met with Mr Arora several times to see how we can work together to deliver the integrated hub airport capacity that Britain needs. Each time he has refused to engage with us. We have now set up a competitive process for potential partners to make a material contribution to expanding Heathrow in a way that is sustainable, affordable and financeable. If Mr Arora really wants to help make Heathrow the best connected hub airport in the world and keep Britain at the heart of the global economy, this is his chance to do so.”,