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London Heathrow LHRLondon Heathrow Airport or Heathrow (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) is a major international airport serving London, England, known as London Airport from 1946 until 1965.


Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in West London, Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world (as of 2012) in total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe. It is also the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic and the third busiest by traffic movements, with a figure surpassed only by Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport. Heathrow is London's main airport, having replaced RAF Northolt and the earlier Croydon Airport. The airport sustains 76,600 jobs directly and around 116,000 indirectly in the immediate area, and this, together with the large number of global corporations with offices close to the airport, makes Heathrow a modern aerotropolis which contributes an estimated 2.7% to London's total GVA.

The airport is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which also owns and operates three other UK airports, and is itself owned by FGP TopCo Limited, an international consortium led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group that includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. Heathrow is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic.

Heathrow lies 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) west of Central London, and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers 3,000 acres (1,200 ha). Terminal 5 was officially dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008 and opened to passengers on 27 March 2008. Construction of a new Terminal 2 complex to replace the old terminal building and adjacent Queen's Building began in 2009 with the first phase expected to open in 2014. Terminals 3 and 4 underwent major refurbishments between 2007 and 2009. In November 2007, a consultation process began for the building of a new third runway and a sixth terminal, which was controversially approved on 15 January 2009 by UK Government ministers. The project was subsequently cancelled on 12 May 2010 by the Cameron Government.

The airport holds a Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P527), which allows flights for public transportation of passengers or for flying instruction.

Heathrow is 14 mi (23 km) west of central London, near the south end of the London Borough of Hillingdon on a parcel of land that is designated part of the Metropolitan Green Belt. The airport is surrounded by the built-up areas of Harlington, Harmondsworth, Longford and Cranford to the north and by Hounslow and Hatton to the east. To the south lie Bedfont and Stanwell while to the west Heathrow is separated from Colnbrook in Berkshire by the M25 motorway. Heathrow falls entirely under the Hounslow post town of the TW postcode area.

As the airport is west of London and as its runways run east–west, an airliner's landing approach is usually directly over the conurbation of London when the wind is from the west.
Along with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend and London City, Heathrow is one of six airports with scheduled services serving the London area, although only Heathrow and London City are within Greater London.

Heathrow Airport started in 1929 as a small airfield (Great West Aerodrome) on land southeast of the hamlet of Heathrow (straddling a road which ran along the east and south edges of the present main terminals area). Development of the whole Heathrow area as a very big airfield started in 1944, stated to be for long-distance military aircraft bound for the far east. However, by the time the airfield was nearing completion, World War II had ended. The government continued to develop the airfield as a civil airport known as London Airport and later Heathrow.
The name 'Heathrow' originates from a local hamlet called 'Heathrow' or 'Heath Row', whose land was mostly farms and market gardens and orchards; there was a 'Heathrow Farm' (approximately where Terminal 1 is now), and a Heathrow Hall and a Heathrow House. Now the name 'Heathrow' is widely known across the world, and occurs in the names of many establishments around the airport, some having no connection with aviation, such as the Heathrow Garden centre in Sipson.

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