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Why a fifth terminal at Heathrow if airlines are closing because no one wants to fly any more

01:00 Wed 28th Nov 2001 |

asks H Gray:
A.
The Government has finally approved a fifth terminal at Heathrow after the longest planning inquiry in British history (1995-1999). Terminal Five will be open by 2007 at a cost of �2.5 billion.

Q. Why do we need another terminal
A.
According to Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, 'Giving the go-ahead for a fifth terminal at Heathrow is essential if we are to maintain Heathrow as one of the world's leading airports and bring benefits to the British economy both locally and nationally.'

Q. So everyone's happy then
A.
Big business is, but environmentalists aren't.

  • Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth claims that millions of people will have their lives blighted by this 'monstrous' new airport. He says that 'the only winners today are the massive corporations of BAA and British Airways', and is angry that the Government's aviation strategy appears to be constant expansion and more public subsidy.
  • Big businesses say that the fifth terminal was inevitable. Although Heathrow is the fourth largest airport in the world with 64.6 million passengers (after Atlanta with 80.2 million, Chicago with 72.1 million, and Los Angeles with 68.5 million), it handles the most international traffic. It is also the busiest airport in Europe, and business groups are worried that airports such as Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam will soon have a higher status.

Q. Won't a new terminal mean thousands more flights each day
A.
Mr Byers said that the number of flights at Heathrow would be limited to 480,000 - that's a mere 20,000 more than last year.

Q. What about noise levels
A.
There will be more noise - new restrictions will extend the current 57-decibel limit.

Q. Does a fifth terminal mean the airport needs a new runway
A.
That may be inevitable - Mr Byers refused to rule it out.

Q. But why expansion is people have stopped flying so much
A.
The fall in numbers of people flying since September 11 is seen as a short-term problem.

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By Sheena Miller

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