Queen opens Heathrow's new terminal

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The Independent Online

The Queen officially opened the £4.3bn new Terminal 5 (T5) at Heathrow airport today, ending 15 years of planning and protest.









Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen paved the way for the operational start of the new terminal on 27 March.



With the royal party as they toured the striking new terminal was Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of airport operator BAA, which first submitted a planning application for T5 as far back as February 1993.



A 30-strong choir performed a specially-commissioned choral composition to mark the opening.



Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, whose plans for expanding Heathrow with a possible third runway and sixth terminal have met with strong opposition from green groups, was among 800 invited guests.



The new terminal has been built exclusively for British Airways, which will eventually have all its Heathrow flights operating from the new facility.



T5 will be able to handle 30 million passengers a year and will mean Heathrow's annual passenger numbers will rise from around 68 million to 95 million.



T5 has been seen as essential for the well-being of Heathrow, London and the UK but it was solidly opposed when first proposed in the 1990s.



A record-breaking four-year planning inquiry - from 1995 to 1999 - was held into T5, which eventually led to the Government giving the scheme the go-ahead in 2001, with work starting in 2002.



BAA chairman Sir Nigel said today: "Terminal Five marks the start of a new beginning for Heathrow, for BAA and for our millions of passengers.



"It is by any standard a triumph of ambition, commitment and collaboration. It will breathe new life into Heathrow, allowing us to continue our transformation of the rest of the airport and will put Heathrow and BAA back where they belong - at the leading edge of global travel."



BA chief executive Willie Walsh said: "Terminal Five is a fantastic facility and our customers will really enjoy the space, comfort and convenience it offers.



"With the opening of T5, BA and BAA have an opportunity to make air travel, both into and out of the UK, once again a calmer and much more enjoyable experience."

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