British Airways and BAA prepare for Heathrow Terminal 5 opening in March

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Thursday, 20 September 2007

This week, airport operator BAA and British Airways begin an intensive six month period of operational readiness activities in preparation for the opening of Heathrows Terminal 5 on 27 March 2008.

Operational readiness activities include induction and familiarisation programmes, staff training and over 70 separate proving trials. These activities run in parallel to the final completions work which includes fit-out, systems integration and finishing works.

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, said, "We can't wait to open the doors to our customers on March 27 next year. Terminal 5 is a fantastic opportunity for British Airways and will transform our operations with less queuing, faster baggage systems and better punctuality.

"Our customers will have exclusive use of Terminal 5 and this will allow us to offer unparalleled standards of comfort and convenience.

"This week marks the start of the next phase with the beginning of six months of rigorous testing and staff familiarisation sessions. These next few months will prove critical in the overall success of Terminal 5."

Over 30,000 staff from different organisations are being taken through comprehensive familiarisation and induction programmes at the new  terminal from this week. British Airways and BAA jointly begin a series of basic tests involving the different individual elements of the building, including for example, signage and wayfinding, the check-in process and evacuation procedures.

The series of complex, integrated trials begins in November and will give volunteers the opportunity to test out the new terminal under realistic airport conditions. Over 16,000 people have been recruited to act as volunteer passengers and will thoroughly test every aspect of the building including car parking, check-in, baggage systems, IT systems and security.

Mark Bullock, Managing Director Heathrow said, Historically, airport projects have encountered problems on opening or have opened late as there has not been enough time at the tail end of construction to undertake sufficient testing. To avoid similar problems at Terminal 5, we began commissioning parts of the building up to a year ago including, for example, the baggage system. This is another major milestone hit on schedule, and I look forward to the opening of Terminal 5 on 27 March next year.

Features of Heathrow's Terminal 5

- Terminal 5 will become the exclusive new home for British Airways serving around 30 million passengers a year.

- Terminal 5 is one of the biggest free standing buildings in the UK. The main terminal building is 40m high, 396m long and 176m wide. The first of two satellite terminal buildings is linked to the main terminal by an underground transit system.

- The Terminal 5 baggage system is one of the biggest, single-terminal baggage handling systems in Europe. It comprises two systems, a main baggage sorter and a fast track system. The fast track system enables time critical bags to be assigned a priority routing through a separate high speed system and delivered direct to the aircraft stand of the departing flight.

- British Airways is moving towards 80% of passengers using online check-in or using a self service kiosk when they arrive at the terminal. The latest technology is also being applied to fast bag drop facilities. There will be 96 self service kiosks and 140 customer service desks, including 96 fast bag drops. Passenger flows have been extensively modelled to ensure there is minimal queuing at every stage.

- Waste heat from the existing combined heat and power station at Heathrow provides Terminal 5 with 85% of its heat on demand.

 - Water from Terminal 5s rainwater harvesting system and groundwater boreholes has reduced the terminals mains water demand by 70%. The harvesting scheme re-uses up to 85% of the rainfall that falls on the Terminal 5 campus.

- Terminal 5 is linked to the London Underground and the Heathrow Express rail service that goes directly into central London.

British Airways will move into T5 in two planned stages one month apart. On 27 March 2008, all longhaul services and the vast majority of shorthaul services from T1 and T3 will move to the new terminal. Long-haul services from T4 will follow suit one month later, with the exception of the Australia, Singapore and Thailand services jointly operated with Qantas Airways which the airline will co-locate in T3.

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