Heathrow’s £2.5 billion Terminal 2 opens without a glitch

For Irish passengers, new terminal will end the days of much-disliked ‘long walk’

Passengers use the check-in at Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters

Passengers use the check-in at Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters

 

London Heathrow’s Terminal 2 – the £2.5 billion creation that will soon cater for all of Aer Lingus’ flights to Heathrow – opened yesterday without a glitch, with the arrival of the first flight – a United Airlines service from Chicago, shortly before 6am.

Just 6,000 passengers, all carried by United Airlines, went through on the first day, greeted by the sight of Beefeaters as they came out of the baggage hall – to the surprise of some sleepy travellers at 6 o’clock in the morning.

Lessons have been learned from airports throughout the world, Heathrow promises – windows in the roof, built in the shape of a shark’s gills and designed by Luis Vidal, let in only northern light.

“Passengers won’t get the harsh light that you can get from the east, or the west that makes it impossible to read a laptop screen,” said a Heathrow official proudly, as he gave one of many guided tours to guests yesterday.

For Irish passengers, the new terminal will end the days of the much-disliked “long walk” to the far end of Terminal 1 for flights to Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Shannon when Aer Lingus moves on July 9th.

However, the new terminal – which will cater for short-haul European flights and those to the Americas and Asia – will not affect the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK, because Irish passengers will bypass passport control.

Known officially as the Queen’s Terminal, T2 has been six years in construction, built by Laing O’Rourke, the London-based construction firm headed by Irishman, Ray O’Rourke and Ferrovial.

20 million passengers

In all, 24,000 people will work at Terminal 2: “It’s like a small city that has been built inside two runways in a fully-operational airport,” Heathrow executive, Max Vialou-Clark told The Irish Times.

“By the time Terminal 2 is fully operational it will, on its own, be just smaller than Manchester, but bigger than Stansted. We should be proud of this, I hope that people are proud of this.”

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