Heathrow’s Top 10 moments from 2016: 5 to 1…


By Heathrow

Published 29th December 2016

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2016 has been one of the biggest years in Heathrow’s history, with TV shows, milestone birthdays and world-firsts aplenty! Today we’re counting down the top 5, of our top 10, Heathrow moments of 2016! Enjoy!

To see moments 10-6, click here.

5. ITV’s Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport Series 2 a success

Over 3 million viewers, on average, tuned in to each episode of ITV’s second series of Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport during May and June this year! From air traffic control, to new aircraft, passengers in need, travelling animals and more…the second series had it all!

Ground operations manager Anastacia was a fan favourite from series 2 of ITV’s Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport.

The hashtag, #britainsbusiestairport, trended in the UK during two of the episodes and our own social media content had over 3.5 million views! We also teamed up with American Airlines to offer viewers the chance to win a trip to NYC.

Prior to the series, we hosted a number of bloggers to give them a taste of what the action is like behind the scenes at the airport, including:

Read our reviews of the episodes, here.

4. Go Heathrow Facebook flight scanner launched in world first

Over 180 destinations across 80 countries can be accessed via flights from Heathrow, and for the first time they’re now all easily accessible in the one place…on Facebook! This year we launched Go Heathrow in partnership with Skyscanner, allowing Facebook users to search and book their Heathrow flights directly from the channel.

The tool is the first time this search based technology has been used on social media, anywhere in the world. The tool is easy to use and is designed to ensure users find the most competitive fares for their chosen destination across a wide range of airline and travel websites. So go on, what are you waiting for….visit Go Heathrow now.

3. Team GB welcomed back from Rio Olympics

On September 9, Great Britain’s Olympic Team touched down at Heathrow after winning a staggering 147 medals at the Rio Olympics! British Airways flight BA2016 Victorious brought the team back home using specially decorated, gold-tipped 747.

Their arrival trended on Twitter for most of the day, with a lot of the athletes getting in on the act. We’ve compiled some of our favourite tweets from the day, here.

2. UK Government recommends Heathrow expansion

On October 25, the UK Government announced its support for Heathrow expansion as its preferred option for increasing airport capacity. The announcement followed the 2.5 year, £20 million, Airports Commission and over a year of additional debate during which the Government completed more work on the issue.

The announcement means that Heathrow expansion will create the first full length runway in the south-east since the second world war.

“A new runway will open trade routes and create jobs up and down the UK. Heathrow will play a key role in making our country stronger and fairer for everyone.” – Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

1. Heathrow Christmas ad goes viral

Brands like John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have become synonomous with the idea of a “Christmas ad” in recent years. This year though Heathrow’s first Christmas ad – “Best gift of all” – became the one that everyone was talking about, featuring across all the major news outlets.

The film features two much-loved and ageing teddy bears as they arrive at the airport. It captures tender moments between the couple; from the wife gently waking her sleeping husband in his seat, to his protective arm helping her onto the escalator. As they travel through the airport, the film – set to a classic Chas and Dave soundtrack – captures all the familiar sights and sounds of the UK’s hub airport.

So far the film has had over 12 million views on Heathrow’s own channels, as well as 10’s of millions of views across other online websites. Read more about the film, here.

From all of us at Heathrow, thank you for an incredible 2016! Be sure to keep getting in contact with us via our social media channels in 2017!

2016 has been one of the biggest years in Heathrow’s history, with TV shows, milestone birthdays and world-firsts aplenty! We’ve ranked Heathrow’s top 10 highlights from 2016 and today we’re revealing number 10-6! Enjoy!

10. Vote Me Airside competition’s second year

For the second year in a row Heathrow gave 5 lucky aviation enthusiasts the chance to win a money-can’t-buy airside tour in the Vote Me Airside competition!

After almost 300 entries and 7,000 votes our winners were selected by our judging panel. On the day of the prize tour our guests were joined by youTube aviation sensation Daniel Goz (Dantorp Aviation), as they went behind the scenes at the UK’s busiest airport. See the stunning pictures from the day and what our winners had to say, here.

9. International blogger stars Margot and Me, We Wore that, I am Tamara and more visit

As the 7-time winner of the Skytrax World’s Best Airport for shopping, the stores at Heathrow house some of the biggest brands from around the globe. This year we invited a number of fashion blogger stars to try out our Personal Shopping service and check out the big brands on offer at the airport.

The glamourous Margo & Me at Terminal 5.

Bloggers including Margo & Me, We Wore that, I am Tamara, The Fierce Diaries, Lydia Millen and Ali Gordon all put our personal shopping service through its paces – resulting in glowing reviews.

8. Heathrow reaches 100,000 followers on Instagram, becomes world’s most followed airport

Launched in 2013, Heathrow’s Instagram account quickly became one of the most popular airport accounts in the world. This year, Heathrow’s following on the channel surged to new heights.

From travel inspiration to AvGeek recognition – the @Heathrow_Airport Instagram account has a bit of everything!

@Heathrow_Airport has not only overtaken Singapore Changi’s account in terms of followers, but it has grown so fast that it’s now smashed through the 100,000 fan barrier. From our #AvGeekoftheweek posts, to the latest fashion and food offers, as well as the dreamy destinations on offer from Heathrow – there’s something on the account for every traveller! Follow us today, here.

7. Heathrow turns 70, launches “First flight” video and welcomes Joanna Lumley

Way back on May 1st, 1946, Heathrow was opened under its original name, London Airport. This year, Heathrow celebrated its 70th birthday as a result… and its come a long way since its humble beginnings!

“Starlight”, the aircraft pictured in this picture, was the first to take off from Heathrow, then London Airport, in 1946.

To help celebrate the milestone Heathrow launched its first ever TV advertisement called “The magic of first flight”. Set to David Bowie’s ‘When I Live My Dream’, the airport’s advert tells the story of the magic of a journey as seen through the eyes of a 5-year-old girl with her companion, Owly.

Joanna Lumley helped kick off the celebrations on airport by launched a series of 70 plaques commemorating the many significant journeys that Heathrow has helped launch during its history.

6. Stephen Fry “Welcome to the UK” video launched

The much loved actor, writer, comedian, presenter and director, Stephen Fry, renowned for classic TV shows including QI, Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, teamed up with BAFTA award-winning scriptwriter Graham Linehan to create ‘Stephen Fry’s Guide to the UK’ to welcome Heathrow passengers.

The tongue-in-cheek welcome video for the airport, gives visitors tips and tricks on handling etiquette in the UK. WATCH the video here.

What are the top 5 moments? Find out here.

With Christmas shoppers rushing to get their last minute presents ahead of this weekend’s Royal Mail international postage deadline, Heathrow is forecasting up to 132,000 tonnes of cargo will go through the airport this December, an increase of 3% over last year, and a new record in air freight for December at Heathrow since 1991.

  • Fresh salmon, knitted items, clotted cream and books are amongst the top exports by weight in Christmas 2015

  • Festive imports include Christmas staples like cranberries, lamb and peas

  • Over 1 million tonnes of cargo goes through Heathrow each year

To mark the occasion, Heathrow has released new data on the seasonal exports and imports in 2015 and highlights what Christmas 2016 has in store.

Heathrow’s export data reflects how our uniquely British sensibilities are exported to the world. Fresh salmon was the single biggest export by weight, totalling 2,980 tonnes in December alone. Other Christmas staples, including knitted and crocheted items, dairy products including clotted cream, and books were amongst the airport’s most popular exports by weight for the month of December, totalling 2,558 tonnes altogether in December 2015.

While not in the list of top ten exports overall, exports of whiskey jumped up by 76% – or 128 tonnes – from November to December 2015.

At the same time, vital components of a festive feast are flown in from all over the world – including 1,680 tonnes of fresh berries, primarily cranberries from Chile, 839 tonnes of lamb, mostly from New Zealand, and 830 tonnes of peas, mostly from Guatemala. Popular presents including laptops, books, and pullovers were the most popular Heathrow import commodities by weight last December, and are expected to be again in 2016 (note – but not laptops as that has dropped massively since last year).

The Top 5 exports by value…

As the biggest port in the UK by value of goods, Heathrow has played an important role in exports. The top five UK export commodities by value expected to go through the airport this Christmas are (based on trends in December):

  • Parts of aircraft & aircraft turbo engines – (in December 2015, the value of these was £281 million)

  • Aircraft turbojets – (in December 2015, the value of these was £212 million)

  • Vaccines for human medicine – (in December 2015, the value of these was £160 million)

  • Medicine, measured doses or for retail sale – (in December 2015, the value of these was £130 million)

  • Paintings – (in December 2015, the value of these was £113 million)

As the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow connects to 82 long-haul destinations which put it – and the UK – at the heart of international commerce. Having received Government backing for its expansion, Heathrow will be able to open up 40 additional long haul destinations – including some severely constrained routes to emerging markets – and almost double capacity.

The Top 5 export destinations this Christmas…

Three of the top five Christmas export destinations at Heathrow (based on value in December 2015) are to fast growing economies in Asia:

  • USA – £929 million

  • Hong Kong – £849 million

  • China – £730 million

  • UAE – £238 million

  • Japan – £151 million

In total, Heathrow has seen 1,407,561 tonnes of cargo go through the airport from January to November this year, an increase of almost 3% over the same period last year.

“We may be a long way from the North Pole, but the figures today underline Heathrow’s vital part in delivering Christmas to the UK, and the British Christmas to the world. Of course, our standing agreement with Santa Claus remains and we’ll prioritise his landing clearance come Christmas Eve.” – Heathrow Head Of Cargo, Nick Platts

Source information:

All figures exclude EU27 & Switzerland.
Source: UK Tradeinfo, Seabury Group, Heathrow analysis

130,000 tonnes of cargo is a record for December cargo volumes, based on Heathrow records for dating back from 1991.

The top ten exports in December 2015, by weight, were (Dec-15 Weight (tonnes) Value (USD)):

  • Salmon, Fresh 2,980 23,337

  • Books, brochures and similar printed matter, not in single sheets 1,735 45,076

  • Milk, cream, buttermilk, yogurt etc. liquid, dried, concentrated or sweetened 532 5,977

  • Medicine, Measured Doses or for Retail Sale 336 194,844

  • Vehicles : Cars, Estate Cars or Station Wagons 312 53,492

  • Food preparations, not elsewhere specified 297 7,128

  • T-shirts & similar garments, of knitted or crocheted textile fabrics 291 12,071

  • Vehicle Engine Parts 277 27,977

  • Other Parts for Aircraft 263 179,486

  • Trout, Fresh 248 1,682

The top ten imports in December 2015, by weight, were (Dec-15 Weight (tonnes) Value (USD)):

  • Beans, Fresh 1,788 6,339

  • Berries including cranberries, blueberries, fresh 1,680 17,325

  • Books, brochures and similar printed matter, not in single sheets 1,193 19,000

  • Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats & similar, knitted or crocheted 979 30,566

  • Sheep Meat, Fresh 839 7,466

  • Digital ADP Machines, Portable (Laptops etc) 836 260,235

  • Peas, Fresh 830 4,472

  • Other Fresh Vegetables, Fresh 825 2,186

  • Asparagus, Fresh 763 5,692

  • T-shirts & similar garments, of knitted or crocheted textile fabrics 660 16,795

In a letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling Heathrow Airport and HACAN set out their joint support for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA) to oversee efforts to reduce aircraft noise in communities around Heathrow.

  • HACAN and Heathrow set out their support for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA), one of the recommendations made by the Airports Commission.

  • The Government has said it would support the introduction of the IANA and will consult on its role and scope in the new year. Ahead of that, the two organisations have agreed a joint position on the role and structure of the Authority.

  • The IANA’s primary role should be to provide an impartial source of expert advice on noise, acting independently of industry, government or local groups.

In a letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling Heathrow Airport and HACAN set out their joint support for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority (IANA) to oversee efforts to reduce aircraft noise in communities around Heathrow.

The establishment of a noise authority was first proposed by the Airports Commission in its final report and the Government has since said it supports the introduction of the IANA with a consultation on its role and scope to follow in the new year.

The two organisations share the view that the IANA’s main roles should be to provide an impartial source of expert advice on noise, coordinate independent research, adjudicate on noise complaints that can’t be managed locally and ensure that communities have access to information about noise and how airports are managing issues.

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said, “It is well-known we don’t agree with Heathrow on everything but on this issue we are speaking with one voice. A strong, independent noise authority can bring reassurance to local communities but can also encourage airports to take their noise responsibilities seriously.”

We want to be a good neighbour, and reduce the impact of aircraft noise on our local communities – something on which we agree with HACAN. An independent aviation noise authority has an important role to play in building trust that we are meeting our commitments” – John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO

The joint position document on an independent aviation noise authority can be downloaded, here.

Over 5.72 million passengers passed through Heathrow in November, setting a new record for the month, results released today revealed.

Heathrow’s passenger numbers for the month rose 2.5% while cargo volumes also enjoyed a surge – increasing 4.4%.

This cargo growth was headlined by fast-growing markets in the Middle East, East Asia and Latin America (China up 10.6%, Turkey up 10.4%, Mexico up 7.3% and Brazil up 5.6%), underlining strengthening trade opportunities for Britain’s exporters.

It wasn’t just cargo volumes increasing to these emerging markets though, with passenger growth also strong. Passengers to Mexico, China and the Middle East were all up 8% – evidence that demand to fly from the UK’s front door remains strong.

Heathrow is Britain’s largest port, accounting for almost 30% of all UK exports by value outside the EU last year. With expansion, its estimated up to 40 new long-haul routes will be possible.

Heathrow looks to the future with new aircraft and expansion design team

Larger, quieter and more efficient aircraft continued to be a driver for growth in passenger volumes which are up 0.7% year-to-date in 2016 as airlines deploy more and more new generation Airbus A380s, A350s and Boeing 787s at Heathrow. Aircraft at Heathrow in 2016 to-date are 1.3% larger than in 2015.

Heathrow announced further investments in Britain’s supply chain in November, awarding 4-year contracts seven expert companies who will design plans for the airport’s sustainable expansion. The new design team will help Heathrow deliver a modern, efficient and affordable airport and includes Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Atkins, Grimshaw, Mott MacDonald, Jacobs and Quod.

“With record passenger volumes and strong cargo growth in November, Heathrow is delivering for Britain’s economy.” – Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

“Since the Government’s backing of a third runway, we’ve put a team in place that will help us to deliver the benefits of expansion as quickly as possible – an affordable plan that creates more jobs, boosts exporters and builds an economy that is stronger and fairer for everyone – and we are looking forward to the publication of the Government’s National Policy Statement early next year.”

The British Airways’ Heathrow / Leeds Bradford Airport route is celebrating four years of connecting London to the heart of Yorkshire. During that time more than half a million customers have used the service!

The three-a-day direct service to London Heathrow was launched on December 9 2012, opening up the world to Yorkshire with connections to British Airways’ global network from its flagship Terminal 5 home.

In four years more than 500,000 leisure and business customers have flown with British Airways from Leeds Bradford Airport to many countries worldwide, but the most popular onward destination for Yorkshire travellers is the USA. Other top destinations include Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Direct link attracting inward investment and tourism to Yorkshire

Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “What a fabulous four years it has been with British Airways, connecting passengers worldwide through the prestigious hub of Heathrow Terminal 5.”

“The fact that we have now carried more than 500,000 passengers is a fantastic milestone to celebrate and we look forward to continuing this successful and popular service.” – Aviation Development Director at Leeds Bradford Airport, Tony Hallwood

Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at Leeds Bradford Airport celebrating the British Airways Heathrow / Leeds route reaching four years of service.

“We are very proud to have British Airways as an airline partner here at LBA, this up to three times daily service is well used by business and leisure passengers from across our region. It also enables businesses to attract inward investment through the great connectivity offered.”

Simon Lea, British Airways’ Airport Manager Leeds Bradford Airport said: “We remain fully committed to Leeds Bradford Airport and the fact that we have reached this milestone figure in four years is due to the loyalty of our customers in Yorkshire who are benefiting from a direct air link to the capital, some excellent onward connections and great low fares.

“We work closely with the airport to ensure that we provide the high quality service our customers want and this year particularly we have concentrated on inbound customers and promoting Yorkshire as a destination for visitors from the south of England and even further afield.” – British Airways’ Airport Manager, Simon Lea

We sent a celebratory cake to our friends at Leeds Bradford Airport!

John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport, said, “The Leeds city region is the largest economic centre outside London, boosted by its access via Heathrow to markets from Hong Kong to Mexico City and from Delhi to Houston.”

“We’re delighted to have worked with Leeds Bradford Airport over the last four years to support the region’s prosperity, and look forward helping deliver more growth and an even stronger economy through the new trade links expansion will provide.” – Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye


Heathrow has teamed up with London-based street artist Ben Eine to create a range of personalised welcome home banners to greet passengers with this Christmas! We’re giving you the chance to download your own banner here as well as a chance for 20 lucky people to win a personalised original from the artist himself! Details below.

This Christmas, Heathrow is giving every passenger the chance to have their own heartfelt reunion in arrivals just as teddy bears Doris and Edward* did in their Christmas film.

The limited edition welcome home banners will be available to pick up at Heathrow terminals* for a week from Tuesday 6th December, when Ben Eine will be customising the prints for people waiting to welcome home loved ones for Christmas.

All donations for the personalised banners will go to Heathrow’s charity partner, Oxfam.

More about the banners and the 2.5 million people expected to fly through Heathrow over Christmas…

Commenting on the upcoming launch Ben Eine said; “I’m always traveling and spend a lot of time in airports so I know what it feels like to get a personal welcome home. I wish I got more of them! I love being able to communicate through my artwork and I am looking forward to helping to put a smile on the faces of people arriving into London Heathrow this Christmas.”

Fiona Carleton, Head of Passenger Experience at Heathrow, said “We are looking forward to welcoming over 2.5 million people over the Christmas period and making their journey extra memorable. We hope the banners not only give our passengers a welcome home to remember but that the friends and family greeting them have a little extra something to make the experience special, too.”

Over 1,000 people visit Heathrow each month just to give their loved ones an extra special welcome.

There will be one of three banners to choose from; Welcome Home, Love You and Missed You, all of which Ben will add the name of the person being greeted, using his iconic and colourful fonts.

The Ben Eine banners can be picked up from all terminals from Tuesday 6th December until Saturday December 10th. Alternatively, you can download the banners below.

Download the banners:

To download the banners, simply click on the images below.

The banners will be available from the following terminals on the below date and times:

  • Tuesday 6th December: T2 – 8.00 – 10.00am

  • Wednesday 7th December: T2 – 7.00 – 9.00am

  • Thursday 8th December: T2 – 7.00 – 9.00am

  • Friday 9th December: T3 – 7.30 – 9.30am

  • Saturday 10th December: T5 – 7.00 – 9.00am

Share your snaps using #BestGiftOfAll to show us your heartwarming Christmas arrivals!

The biggest names from across the UK aviation industry have joined together to highlight the urgent need to modernise airspace, under a new group – “The Sky’s the limit”. Research by NATS has shown that delays are set to rise from around 90,000 minutes a year today to 4 million by 2030 unless the UK’s ageing network of airspace structures and flight paths is redesigned to make use of modern aircraft technology.

The following has been taken from a press release issued by NATS:

The Sky’s the Limit group is also highlighting that significant environmental benefits are being missed as aircraft are forced to fly longer and further than necessary because of the failure of successive governments to commit to airspace modernisation.

The Sky’s the Limit group is calling on the government and politicians to support the changes that it describes as urgent and necessary.

Without redesigning the UK’s network of flight paths and airways, it is feared that it simply won’t cope with the growth in traffic forecast over the coming years, with 3.1 million flights a year expected in the UK by 2030, up from 2 million flights in 2015.

Martin Rolfe, NATS Chief Executive Officer, said, “A thriving aviation industry that connects us to the rest of the world has never been more important, but this problem is an existential threat to both the industry’s health and the wider health of UK plc.”

Airspace today is the same as it was in the 1960s and 70s…

Much of the UK’s controlled airspace – the invisible motorways in the sky where commercial aircraft fly – was designed in the 1960 and 1970s for a different era of aircraft and when traffic was less than half of what it is today. Redrawing flight paths and moving away from traditional ground-based beacons to modern satellite navigation will increase capacity in the air, while reducing the number of people who experience aircraft noise and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The environmental benefits of airspace modernisation are considerable, with aircraft able to fly more directly with routes that can be designed to avoid noise sensitive areas or provide a more equitable spread of noise. These more direct routes will reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions, lessening aviation’s impact on the climate and local air quality.

Modernisation would allow for the greater use of smooth continuous descent and climb operations, meaning aircraft spend less time at low levels where they are not as efficient and create more noise. It would also reduce the need for conventional orbital holding, which again would keep aircraft higher for longer.

Through these and other improved operating procedures – that can be utilised with a modern airspace structure – there is a potential carbon saving to UK aviation by of between 9% and 14% by 2050, according to Sustainable Aviation. Modernising UK airspace will therefore help the industry to deliver its commitment of a 50% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005.

“We need modern airspace infrastructure to maximise the benefits of these highly efficient aircraft” – Virgin Atlantic CEO

Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Atlantic said, “On-time performance is vitally important for Virgin Atlantic and our customers. Our investment in the very latest generation aircraft will allow us to fly ever more efficiently so that we can keep our fares low and minimise our environmental impact.

“But we need modern airspace infrastructure to maximise the benefits of these highly efficient aircraft. We’re calling on the government to recognise the overwhelming positive case for change in terms of the wider economic value and the benefits for noise and emissions.”

Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive Officer of easyJet added: “The airspace through which our aircraft operate every day is a critical part of our national infrastructure, but some of it dates from the 1960s and needs to be modernised.”

“We should take advantage of recent advances in technology so that aircraft can operate quieter and more efficient routes, as well as delivering significant, double digit reductions in carbon emissions and fewer delays for passengers.” – Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO

“We want to the Government to start the process to deliver this much needed modernisation of the UK’s airspace.”

The Sky’s the Limit group, which involves airlines, airports and air traffic control providers, is committed to working collectively as an industry with government, communities and other key stakeholders to deliver airspace modernisation and its associated environmental and economic benefits.

The group is now calling on the government to commit to delivering a stable, long-term noise and airspace policy that enables airspace modernisation and to assign it under the remit of the National Infrastructure Commission in order to detach it from the short term political cycle.

Mr Rolfe concludes: “We welcome the Government’s decision to agree the location of a new runway in the south east of England, but airspace is the invisible part of our transport infrastructure and this is a nationwide issue that needs to be addressed. Imagine the road network of the 1960s trying to cope with today’s road traffic levels.”

“The amount of delays that motorists would experience would be totally unsustainable. Modernising how our skies are structured is vital, but we are already behind schedule and it is critical that the industry and government now work together to deliver change.”

The Sky’s the Limit campaign is made up of the Airport Operators Association, BAR UK, Airlines UK, IATA and NATS.

Heathrow welcomes the announcement

Heathrow has today welcomed the Sky’s The Limit campaign. Heathrow statement:

“Heathrow welcomes the Sky’s The Limit campaign. Airspace modernisation will benefit passengers, the environment and the UK economy – by reducing delays, cutting emissions and making air travel more efficient.

We will work with Government, alongside local communities and the aviation industry, to ensure that UK airspace is designed to meet the challenges of the future.”

Did you know that when the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) Paddington Station,  opens it will feature one of Europe’s largest artworks? The Cloud Index, sponsored by Heathrow as part of Crossrail’s Culture Line initiative, will be the centrepiece of the Paddington Station – serving as a grand canopy for the main ticket hall. Here at yourHeathrow, we got to take a sneakpeak behind the scenes of the work in progress at Paddington.

The Elizabeth line is set to dramatically reduce travel times to Heathrow from London’s east, with Canary Wharf, for example, to be within just 39 minutes of Heathrow!

Today, the station is still under construction but very much on the way to being a new gateway for Heathrow passengers into London.

The station layout

Built to the south of Brunel’s iconic 19th Century station, directly below Eastbourne Terrace and Departures Road, the new station spans three levels with two entrances into the station via a new pedestrianised public realm.

An impression of the Paddington Station ticket hall. Source: Crossrail

A 90 metre clear opening – a unique feature for urban underground station design – will be covered by a dramatic steel and glass canopy eight metres above the ground that will let natural light flood down to the station platform. The open void will allow for natural air to circulate through the station.

Printed onto the 120 metre long, 18 metre wide, canopy will be a bespoke work of art by American artist Spencer Finch sponsored by Heathrow. The ‘Cloud Index’ will create a picture of the sky which will appear to change according to the light, the direction of the sun and the time of day in the tradition of artists such as Constable and Turner. (Source: Crossrail.co.uk)

Artist Spencer Finch said, “I want to create a visual experience for travellers that changes each time they pass through the station. This artwork will exist both as an artificial cloudscape and as a homage to the British obsession with categorizing and systematizing the most fugitive of natural phenomena.”

“Since Luke Howard first created a nomenclature for clouds in 1803, the efforts to comprehend and quantify clouds have been both beautiful and quixotic, and clouds always seem to stay one step ahead of human understanding.”

Installing the “Cloud Index”

The Cloud Index will be made up of 180 panels of glass and represents a significant challenge in itself to construct.

To date, Crossrail and Finch have gone through a strenuous process of testing construction materials, modifying layouts to maximise the angle of sunlight in the area, and analysing how the artwork created on different canvas types can alter the overall effects.

An artists impression of the “Cloud Index” canopy artwork. Source: Crossrail

A final design and construction technique has now been decided upon, beginning with the artwork being digitally printed on a series of 6 metres long by 2 metres wide, triple layered, glass panels.

To ensure the artwork won’t be damaged by natural elements or pollution, the design is printed on the middle layer of glass. This will also allow for the roof to be cleaned easily.

The Heathrow team on site during the visit.

In 2017, the first stage of the canopy installation will begin with a temporary roof erected, complete with an access deck on top.

This will provide access to the roof for those installing the artwork, and also waterproof the main ticket hall area so that it can be fitted out concurrently.

WATCH | Hear from the artist Spencer Finch and Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye via Crossrail’s video below.

Heathrow has won the Airport Operators Association Award for Best Airport (10 million passengers and above) overnight for the second year in a row!

The award is voted on by airlines and passengers and recognises the best of the best from the UK aviation industry.

“The AOA Awards showcase the best in the aviation and airport sectors. The 2016 winners demonstrate the vibrant and innovative work going on across the UK and Ireland, improving efficiency, reducing the impact of aviation on the environment and delivering an ever-improving passenger experience.” – AOA CEO, Darren Caplan

“Congratulations to them all!”

The AOA award follows Heathrow’s success in the Skytrax Awards earlier in the year, where it took home Best Airport in Western Europe (for the 2nd time), Best Airport Shopping (for the 7th time), and World’s Best Terminal (T5 – for the 5th time).

Heathrow suppliers recognised with awards and commendations

Heathrow Airport suppliers including Vanderlande, Babcock International Group, Wilson James, and Omniserve Ltd also took home awards or were highly commended in their own categories.

Of particular note was Wilson James, who were highly commended in the Best Business Partner category for their impressive engagement with the local community.

Other award winners on the night included:

  • Best General Aviation Airport: Gloucestershire Airport

  • Best Airport (Under 3 million passengers): London Southend Airport

  • Best Airport (3-10 million passengers): Glasgow Airport

  • Best Airport (Over 10 million passengers): Heathrow Airport



By Heathrow

Published 22nd November 2016