Located approximately 14 miles west of central London, Heathrow is the UK & Europe’s busiest airport as well as the busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger numbers. There are currently 4 operational terminals (1, 3, 4 & 5) with Terminal 2 set to re-open in 2014 after a complete re-build.
Together with its IAG partner Iberia Airlines, British Airways is the sole tenant of Terminal 5, Heathrow’s most modern terminal, which opened in 2008. Even after the opening of Terminal 5, capacity constraints mean that British Airways has had to operate additional flights from Terminal 3 while the takeover of BMI in 2012 means that the airline also now flies out of Terminal 1.
Although the majority of British Airways flights operate out of Terminal 5, (and pretty much all of its flagship routes) passengers should always check with the airline (both at the time of booking as well as close to departure) to verify which terminal their flight will operate from and to.
Getting to and from Heathrow is relatively easy. From London, travellers have the option of either the Heathrow Express (non-stop) or Heathrow Connect (with stops) from Paddington as well as the London Underground piccadilly line. There are also numerous coach and bus routes to Heathrow including Rail – Bus connections at Reading, Woking & Feltham.
Heathrow was part of BAA plc that was privatised in 1986 before being taken over by Spanish infrastructure company Grupo Ferrovial in 2006. In October 2012, BAA was renamed Heathrow Airport Holdings in order to reflect the overwhelming dominance of Heathrow within the old BAA. In order to pay down the debt required for the takeover, Grupo Ferrovial has also sold off significant stakes in the business to overseas partners from Singapore, Qatar & China. As a result, Grupo Ferrovial now owns less than 50% of the business.
Gatwick Airport is located approximately 30 miles south of central London and is the UK’s second busiest airport as well as the world’s busiest single runway airport.
Gatwick has 2 terminals, North & South, with all British Airways flights operating out of the North Terminal. As British Airways’ secondary base in the UK behind Heathrow, the airline’s focus at Gatwick is primarily point-to-point (as opposed to hub) and leisure traffic. The majority of British Airways flights from Gatwick are short-haul flights to Europe and North Africa although there is also an important long-haul fleet that serves the leisure markets of the Caribbean, USA (Las Vegas), Mexico (Cancun) and Indian Ocean (Sri Lanka & Mauritius).
Gatwick is well connected by both coach and rail. The airport is served by Southern Railway from London Victoria via Clapham Junction & East Croydon as well as the Gatwick Express non-stop from Victoria. In addition, First Capital Connect provides through-trains to London Bridge & St Pancras in London as well as north to Bedford. First Great Western also operate services north-west to Redhill, Guildford & Reading.
Following its privatisation in 1986, Gatwick was part of BAA plc until it was taken over by Global Infrastructure Partners in 2009. In turn, GIP have sold stakes in the new business to investment funds from Abu Dhabi, Australia & USA. Since taking over Gatwick, GIP have undertaken a significant investment program in order to bring the airport up to date, improve the customer experience and better compete with London Heathrow. For British Airways passengers, the clearest example of this investment has been the opening of a brand new dedicated check-in area within the North Terminal.
London City Airport
London City Airport is the city’s newest and most central airport. Opened in 1987, the airport is located in the old docklands area of the city, just 7 miles east of the City of London and even closer to the new financial centre around Canary Wharf.
- With its 1 short runway and location close to the main financial centres of London, the majority of flights are to the major financial centres of Europe although leisure traffic is increasing. The sole long-haul British Airways flight from London City is an all-business class service to New York JFK.
The airport is linked to the City of London, Canary Wharf & Stratford amongst others by Docklands Light Railway with convenient connections to the London Underground and mainline train services.
Since 2006 the airport has been owned by a consortium led by Global Infrastructure Partners, the same company that owns London Gatwick.