United First For New Queen’s Terminal

first_imgHeathrow’s Terminal 2. United Airlines inaugurated a new era at Heathrow International Airport on Wednesday, June 4  when it became the first carrier to arrive at the newly opened £2.5 billion Terminal 2.  The aircraft, a United Boeing 767-300ER operating Flight 958 from Chicago, unloaded the first of what Heathrow officials project will be up to 20 million passengers a year to pass through the brand new terminal. The US carrier is the first to move into the terminal and will eventually operate 17 arriving and departing flights throughout the day as it gradually consolidates its entire Heathrow operations to Terminal 2. United Airlines will be joined by 25 other airlines in phases over the next  6 months comprised of 23 members of the Star Alliance along with Aer Lingus, Germanwings and Virgin Atlantic Little Red. When at full capacity, Terminal 2 will have 332 daily flights to 54 global destinations.  Originally built in 1955 and famously incorporating the iconic Queen’s Building, Terminal 2 was designed for 1.2 million passengers. However, by 2009, over 8 million passengers squeezed through annually prompting the site’s closure, demolition and ambitious re-development. The terminal features a number of world firsts including the airport debut of British high-street favorite John Lewis along with more than 30 high end retailers and 17 gourmet food and drink outlets including a Fuller’s Pub serving London Pride and the Gorgeous Kitchen – a restaurant founded by four local female chefs. The new facility has been named ‘The Queen’s Terminal” in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who will perform the official opening ceremony on June 23 accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh.   Heathrow officials hope the intervening time between the arrival of the first flights and the official opening will provide ample time to tackle any early operating issues.  The airport is ever mindful of the 2008 fiasco that followed the opening of Terminal 5 in which over 42,000 bags went astray and over 500 flights were cancelled. To avoid a repeat, the airport has performed 180 trials involving over 14,000 volunteers to iron out potential bugs. The trials included passing more than 100,000 bags through the terminal’s baggage system, and stressing it by handling 4000 bags per hour compared to an expected peak load of 2,500 bags per hour. To facilitate a smooth start, every employee at Terminal 2 has also been required to participate in familiarization and training sessions.last_img

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