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2021 marks 75 years since Heathrow officially became a commercial airport. Despite the most difficult year in our history, the UK’s hub airport is using this milestone as an opportunity to reflect on the huge journey of growth undertaken in those 75 years, and to look ahead at what the next 75 could bring.
It was in 1946 that Heathrow came into existence as a civil airport, following its time as first, Fairey’s Great West Aerodrome in the 1930s, and then as RAF Heston during World War II. Whilst the first commercial flight to depart ‘London Airport’ was on 1st January 1946, the airport didn’t officially open until 31st May 1946, with passenger terminals made from ex-military marquees that formed a ‘tented village’ along the Bath Road.
Fast forward 75 years and it’s clear that much has changed. Heathrow has grown to become one of the world’s busiest airports, typically operating out of four terminals, flying to over 200 destinations worldwide, and acting as the biggest port by value in the UK – although, back in 1946, the airport had six runways, now we only have two! Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcomed over 80 million passengers through our doors each year – compared to the 63,000 who travelled through in 1946.
The global pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges, meaning we have had to draw on our 75 years of experience in safely and securely seeing passengers on their way. This has led Heathrow being awarded ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation for our COVID-19 safety measures. Remaining open throughout the pandemic, to facilitate vital cargo deliveries and repatriation flights, has only been possible by maintaining these high safety levels and by the dedication of all Heathrow and Team Heathrow frontline colleagues.
In our 75th year, we are looking forward to getting back to what we do best – reuniting friends and families, connecting UK exporters to opportunities, making memories and enabling adventures.
Highlighting our history through the personal stories and memories of colleagues, passengers, partners and members of the local community.
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