While millions of people travel through Heathrow every year on route to their favourite holiday destinations, few give much thought to the airport itself. We’ve compiled some of the most fascinating Heathrow facts and statistics for you to ponder on your next outbound flight. Enjoy!
Developed by a British aero engineer named Richard Fairey, Heathrow started life as a single grass runway and set of quickly erected buildings. During World War II, land in and around the village of Heathrow, including that belonging to Fairey, was requisitioned by the government to be used as a military aerodrome to build RAF Heston, which was to be a base carrying troops to the Far East. However, it was never used for this purpose as the war ended before it was finished, and it was instead handed to the Air Ministry as London’s first civil airport in 1946. Initially, it was named London airport and its name wasn’t changed to ‘Heathrow’ until 1966.
Heathrow is a constant hive of activity. An average of 205,400 passengers arrive and depart each day. That’s more than 70 million a year, which is the size of the UK population, plus an additional 6 million! 2015 was the busiest year recorded, with 75 million passengers. In 2015, 64% of passengers were travelling for leisure, and 36% for business. 32% of all passengers in 2015 were passing through Heathrow and transferring to other destinations.
The top destinations for international passengers flying from Heathrow are, in order of popularity, New York, Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. From Heathrow, you can fly to 180 destinations in 90 countries on flights offered by 90 airlines. 7 out of 10 of arrivals to Heathrow come from the east, over London, and 3 out of ten of flights come from the west, over Windsor.
Heathrow fuels its hungry travellers with almost 5 million eggs, 4.5 million bacon rashers and 6.4m croissants for their breakfasts annually, and sells 26,000 cups of tea, 35,000 cups of coffee and 1,050 bottles of champagne every day. Due to a limited amount of space, and to keep down on fuel costs, each Boeing 747-400 flight carries no more than 99 full bottles of wine, 2,000 ice cubes and 164 bags of nuts.
The Windsor Suite, a purpose-built modern complex, is hidden away at the south side of the airport and serves the Royal Family, heads of state and celebrities. The suite has been used by all of the royals, including William and Harry. Celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole have used the suite, at a cost of £1,500 per person per visit.
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Some people rank airports for their range of destinations. Some focus on the shopping choice. But for an airport, surely the best way of judging success is based on punctuality. After all, having flights departing on time is what airports are all about – or at least it should be.