Heathrow's new Terminal 2: one year to go...

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Today is about Heathrow airport.

If you follow the British media, it's all about Heathrow these days...everyone seems to have an opinion about what needs to be done with Heathrow...even this blog, where I have voiced my humble opinion that for passengers starting or ending their journey in central London, the other airports serving the British capital, particularly London Gatwick, are just fine and equally reachable (of course if you are transit passenger flying British Airways or one of its Oneworld partners is another story!),

To be totally fair, Heathrow has been improving these past few years and there have even been some new realistic proposals that would, by adding some corrections to its current layout, consolidate Heathrow's position as Britain's main air hub for generations to come.

If much of this improvement was attributable to the state-of-the-art Oneworld-centric Terminal 5 (also a good place for planespotters!), the completely re-built Terminal 2 will also do its bit to improve the airport's passenger experience, particularly if you fly any of the 23 Star Alliance airlines flying to London Heathrow.

As the new terminal is due to open exactly one year from today, on 4th June 2014 if all goes according to the plan, I was invited to visit Heathrow's Terminal 2 construction site this week.

I was expecting to be able to provide a field report on the state of the project, but, unfortunately, some personal commitments have prevented me from being there on the date...however, the people at Heathrow airport have been king enough to provide me a ver detailed brief, that although not a perfect substitute for a real on-site visit, gave me good insights of what is going on at Terminal 2 and what can be expect one year from now.

Terminal 2, that despite its ordinal number was actually Heathrow's first terminal, inaugurated by HM the Queen in 1954. I knew it was being rebuilt from scratch, but I was unaware of the scale of the works.

This £2.5B project is pretty much equivalent to building a whole middle-sized airport able to handle 20 million passengers per year (for reference: London Gatwick has around 30M passengers per year). Some more numbers: it's going to have 28 aircraft stands, 52 shops, 17 bars and restaurants and it is going to be used by 26 airlines (mostly Star Alliance members). Like T5, it is going to have a satellite pier, called T2B.

Trials and testing starts in November 2013, but  if you wish to be among the first to use Heathrow's new Terminal 2, the first flight is going to be a United Airlines flight from Chicago, scheduled to land at 05.55 on 4th june 2014. Save the date!