First look: Heathrow Terminal 2A topping out event

1 Mar 2012 by BusinessTraveller

Business Traveller gets a glimpse inside the new terminal, which is lauded to be “even better than T5”.

The first phase of airport operator BAA’s £2.5 billion T2 has now been deemed “weatherproof” in a topping out ceremony that took place yesterday (February 29), heralding a milestone in the construction process that will now see the interiors fitted out.

Since the demolition of the old Terminal 2 building in 2010, developers have been hard at work for 630 days building a facility on the old site that will accommodate 20 million passengers annually (as opposed to eight million previously).

T2A will have 12 aircraft stands, while satellite Terminal 2B will have 16 aircraft parking stands, a 1,300-space car park and additional passenger gates. Together, they will house 60 self-service kiosks, 60 fast-bag drops, 56 check-in desks and 14 security lanes for passengers.

John Holland-Kaye, commercial director for BAA, said: “Looking around, you will see how many similarities there are between T2 and T5 – but Terminal 2 will be better than Terminal 5, it’s going to offer a lovely dramatic welcome, a modern intuitive space, clear way-finding, wide walkways, the finest lifts and escalators, shorter walking distances, much more automation and a faster journey through security. It is going to be much more human scale that Terminal 5 so it will make it much easier for people.”

Steve Morgan, capital programmes director at BAA, explained how the design of T2, with its undulating roof, intelligent illuminations and floor-to-ceiling windows will mean it is “nice and bright” inside. “The lighting inside is actually going to be sensed so depending on how much light is in the building it will turn the lights on to whatever level it needs to be depending on the time of day. We change the colour as the day goes on so what you’ll get is the feeling of being outside, which is pretty cool I think.”

Holland-Kaye added: “Transfer passengers will have a dedicated route – they will be able to make their connections much more quickly, smoothly and with less hassle, and they will have a dedicated transfer lounge that will make us a much more competitive hub against the other European airports. From your arrival gate you will be able to walk to your car in three minutes, through an automated border and a simple baggage hall straight out into the airport. We also want to raise service standards – we will be training our staff to be much more passenger focused. It will be a very different Heathrow.”

The project is set to be completed in November 2013, with airlines moving in one at a time over a six-month period starting from late spring 2014. A second satellite structure, Terminal 2C, will occupy the area now occupied by T1 and will add a ten million-passenger capacity by 2019.

Morgan also highlighted T2's environmental credentials: “We claim it is Europe’s greenest terminal. When we tore down Terminal 2 and the Queen’s Building we recycled all the glass, steel and concrete. We’re are using [1,000 sqm of] photovoltaic cells to produce electricity, and on the other side of the south runway we have an energy plant that is just about to be finished. Waste water will be used for washing and other industrial purposes. We are going to use 40 per cent less energy from hydrocarbon sources – so we are not going to use as much coal, natural gas or petroleum as a typical airport our size.”

Although the authorities do not yet know which carriers will be first to move in, T2 will be assigned exclusively to Star Alliance. Morgan said this is because they are not sure what is happening with Bmi yet, which is currently a member of Star but if regulatory approval of the sale to IAG (International Airlines Group), which is the parent company for Oneworld members BA and Iberia, goes ahead then it will cease to be so. It is also unclear, as yet, as to which airlines will have lounges in T2. But Morgan said, “the major airlines that fly lots of planes from this terminal will have CIP lounges. Star has talked about having a Star lounge”.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “When we open T2 we have years and years more of work to do to turn Heathrow in to the airport that every single passenger will love and that the country will be proud of. [But] 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. There’s a lot still to do, but the opening of Terminal 2 could move Heathrow into pole position among European hub airports and allow us to set our sights on elite airports such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Incheon in Seoul.”

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Jenny Southan

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