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  • Who does what at an airport?

    While for passengers, each journey is often seen as one experience provided by the airport they’re flying via or the airline they’re flying with – the reality is that there are many different colleagues from across a number of companies making their trip possible. Below we’ve taken a look at who does what at the airport.

    Team Heathrow has over 76,500 colleagues from over 400 companies working together to keep the airport running. There are colleagues from airlines, baggage handlers, retailers, emergency services and many more. There’s more information on some of the key areas below:


    The UK has some of the most comprehensive aviation security measures of any country in the world. Here at Heathrow, we are committed to ensuring we work with our partners in the Metropolitan Police, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Government on these measures so that our passengers’ journeys are as safe as possible.

    The security officers that you encounter as you pass through the airport are Heathrow colleagues. Over 4,000 security colleagues work tirelessly across the airport to keep passengers safe.

    While most of our passengers will be familiar with Heathrow’s security screening processes as they arrive and depart, it’s important to note that these are not the only procedures in place to protect your safety. The Metropolitan Police, various Government bodies and the Civil Aviation Authority are also working behind the scenes with us, Heathrow, to keep you safe.


    On a normal day, our baggage colleagues process an astonishing 11,500 number of bags per hour, across conveyor belts longer than the length of 40 runways. Together, the team successfully ensured 99% of passengers travelled with their bags last year.

    Border Force

    Border Force is responsible on behalf of the Home Office, for passport control checks at all UK airports, including Heathrow. The company is responsible for securing and managing UK border controls, enforcing immigration and customs regulations.

    Airside Operations

    Heathrow Airside Operations is at the heart of Heathrow Airport, making sure each flight takes off or lands approximately every 45 seconds. This team co-ordinate between air-traffic control and maintenance personnel, whilst conducting additional activities including abiding by aviation security requirements. Airside operations is an exciting, 24/7 live operational environment where every decision has a significant impact on the way Heathrow operates.

    Metropolitan Police

    The Metropolitan Police provide safety and security for over 78 million passengers travelling through the airport every year. They operate from an on-site police station with more than 400 active officers on duty to ensure the travelling public, staff and visitors are safeguarded at all times. In 2018, the Metropolitan Police teamed up with Heathrow to run a multi-agency exercise in the now closed, Terminal 1 – called Operation Raptor.


    Heathrow is the airport of choice for over 80 airlines, flying to 204 destinations in 85 countries. The airport is the primary hub of British Airways and a base for Virgin Atlantic. From check-in to on-board service, Heathrow’s airline partners support the airport in making every passenger journey possible.

    Air Traffic Control

    The Air Traffic Controllers from NATS help ensure almost 480,000 aircraft movements a year are handled safely. The ATCs are located at the Air Traffic Control Tower in the centre of Heathrow’s airfield. From providing take off instructions, to controlling ground traffic, they’re responsible for directing the safe movement of every aircraft.

    Did you know?
    • The Airport Fire Services must respond to a fire within a maximum of 3 minutes from the time of call to the time of attendance;
    • The baggage system in Terminal 5 has more than 30 miles of conveyor belts driven by 10,195 electrical motors;
    • There are almost 480,000 aircraft movements and 35 million bags handled each year;
    • The main British Airways cargo building is the size of 6 football pitches.