This is the change everyone has been waiting for at London's Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Skitch

Heathrow Airport

London's Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest hubs in the world and serves as a major point to connect traffic from Asia and Africa to North America.

As Britain's main international airport, Heathrow has been working hard to upgrade its facilities. In recent years, the airport has opened two new terminal buildings and has conducted significant renovations to others.

The greatest constraint on the airport, however, has been its lack of runways. Though more than 72 million passengers pass through Heathrow every year, the facility still operates using just two runways.
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That's right, two. This makes operations for the airport quite challenging.

But if Heathrow's latest expansion plans are approved, things are about to change for the airport.

Though Heathrow's roots can be traced back as early as 1930, the foundations of the modern facility we know today were laid during World War II.

Though Heathrow's roots can be traced back as early as 1930, the foundations of the modern facility we know today were laid during World War II.

During the war, the facility was known as RAF Heston and featured a military control tower surrounded by a series of runways configured in a "Star of David" formation.

During the war, the facility was known as RAF Heston and featured a military control tower surrounded by a series of runways configured in a "Star of David" formation.
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In 1946, the facility was reconfigured for civilian use.

In 1946, the facility was reconfigured for civilian use.

At first, the airport wasn't much to look at. Its passenger terminals were just tents.

At first, the airport wasn't much to look at. Its passenger terminals were just tents.
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By the 1960s, the airport's permanent terminal buildings entered service. Heathrow also abandoned its "Star of David" layout, keeping only the northern and southern runways.

By the 1960s, the airport's permanent terminal buildings entered service. Heathrow also abandoned its "Star of David" layout, keeping only the northern and southern runways.

Heathrow development came just in time for the arrival of the jet set! Along with celebrities such as The Beatles and ...

Heathrow development came just in time for the arrival of the jet set! Along with celebrities such as The Beatles and ...
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... Clint Eastwood.

... Clint Eastwood.

Today the airport is the primary international hub serving London and much of England.

Today the airport is the primary international hub serving London and much of England.
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The airport is home to Virgin Atlantic Airways and ...

The airport is home to Virgin Atlantic Airways and ...

... British Airways.

... British Airways.
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For nearly three decades, it was also home to British Airways' fleet of Concorde supersonic jetliners.

For nearly three decades, it was also home to British Airways' fleet of Concorde supersonic jetliners.

In recent years, Heathrow has opened its new Terminal 2 and ...

In recent years, Heathrow has opened its new Terminal 2 and ...
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... Terminal 5 facilities.

... Terminal 5 facilities.

But what hasn't changed in the past half-century are its two runways. All the while, rival airports such as JFK in New York and Charles de Gaulle in Paris each boast four runways.

But what hasn't changed in the past half-century are its two runways. All the while, rival airports such as JFK in New York and Charles de Gaulle in Paris each boast four runways.
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But that may be ready for an update if the airport's new expansion proposal is approved this December.

But that may be ready for an update if the airport's new expansion proposal is approved this December.

The expansion would include a third runway built at the north of the airport; it would increase Heathrow's capacity to 740,000 flights a year from 470,000.

The expansion would include a third runway built at the north of the airport; it would increase Heathrow's capacity to 740,000 flights a year from 470,000.
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The airport also wants to build a new terminal to the west of Terminal 5.

The airport also wants to build a new terminal to the west of Terminal 5.

The expansion would also dramatically alter Heathrow's central terminal area.

The expansion would also dramatically alter Heathrow's central terminal area.
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The transformed central terminal area will feature new hotels, office buildings, and ...

The transformed central terminal area will feature new hotels, office buildings, and ...

... green space for passengers.

... green space for passengers.
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The new hotel facilities will be located just a few minutes away from the terminals.

The new hotel facilities will be located just a few minutes away from the terminals.

The proposed development plan also calls for improvements to road and rail access to the airport.

The proposed development plan also calls for improvements to road and rail access to the airport.
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The expansion of London Heathrow has been a contentious topic. Though there have been discussions about building a new airport for decades, the British government recommended improvements to Heathrow as the preferred way to increase airport capacity.

The expansion of London Heathrow has been a contentious topic. Though there have been discussions about building a new airport for decades, the British government recommended improvements to Heathrow as the preferred way to increase airport capacity.