London Heathrow Airport opened its newly redeveloped Terminal 2 in June 2014. Credit: Heathrow Airport Limited.
Terminal 2 replaced the airport's oldest terminal. Credit: AECOM.
Terminal 2 is anticipated to be the world’s first airport terminal to receive the prestigious BREEAM certification. Credit: AECOM.
The Terminal 1 was closed in June 2015 while its baggage system is used by Terminal 2. Credit: Heathrow Airport Limited.
Luis Vidal + Architects (LVA) was the lead architect for the new terminal. Credit: Diliff.
The new Terminal 2 at Heathrow airport offers different check-in options for the passengers. Credit: Smuconlaw.
AECOM was awarded a contract for the creation of a new infrastructure for a permanent T2 baggage system. Credit: Bartosh.s.
Terminal 2 houses 26 airlines. Credit: EQRoy/

The London Heathrow Airport in the UK opened the redeveloped T2 in June 2014, marking the completion of an £11bn ($13.4bn) investment programme initiated in 2003. The programme was aimed at modernising and expanding the airport, which has been in operation since 1955.

The original T2, Heathrow’s oldest passenger terminal operating since 1955, was closed in November 2009 and demolished a year later to enable the construction of a future-ready terminal in its place. The new terminal houses 26 airlines.

Construction of the £2.5bn ($4.1bn) terminal project was completed in November 2013. The new T2, named the Queen’s Terminal, underwent operational tests and trials before it was opened to the public in June 2014.

The new terminal created approximately 25,000 direct or indirect job opportunities, including around 500 security officers, 30 passenger service ambassadors and 70 service team leaders.

Details of Heathrow’s new T2 project

The new 210,000m² T2 located in the heart of London Heathrow Airport involved the construction of a five-storey main terminal building named Terminal 2A (T2A), a 522m-long satellite pier named Terminal 2B (T2B) running parallel to the main building, a four-storey car park facility for 1,300 vehicles, and the development of new approach roads and forecourt lanes.

T2A has 12 boarding gates and ten aircraft stands, including two flexible stands capable of taking two small aircraft while 14 boarding gates and 14 aircraft stands are present in T2B. T2A and T2B are connected by a passenger underground tunnel. Passengers enter the terminal’s central courtyard located between the car park and the main building via lifts and escalators.

The Queen’s Terminal was opened in a phased manner with 26 airlines moving into the terminal over a six-month period. The operating airlines in the new terminal include 23 Star Alliance member airlines; Aer Lingus, the national airline of Ireland; Lufthansa Group’s German budget airline Germanwings, and the Virgin Atlantic Little Red airline.

Facilities at the Queen’s terminal

T2 at Heathrow Airport offers different check-in options for passengers. It features 66 self-service kiosks where passengers can check in for their flight by printing their boarding cards and bag tags before moving to the bag drop.

The terminal also has 56 traditional check-in desks. There are 60 fast-bag drop facilities at the terminal. Security checking is done at four fast track lanes and 17 regular lanes.

The new terminal has two departure lounges, including the main departure lounge split into two levels in T2A and a smaller departure lounge in T2B with all passengers having access to either of the lounges. The departure lounges and waiting areas in the terminal are designed as airy spaces filled with natural light.

The terminal houses two baggage reclaim halls, one for arriving domestic passengers and the other for international passengers. The international hall has eight reclaim belts while the domestic hall has two reclaim belts.

The terminal also features 62 shops and restaurants, including a bespoke shopping area featuring a translucent floating ceiling that offers passengers a luxury fashion house environment.

Heathrow Airport’s new T2 design

The special attraction at the new terminal is a monumental sculpture called Slipstream, which is suspended between two passenger walkways and covers the entire length of the central courtyard. The aluminium artwork created by the renowned UK artist Richard Wilson is inspired by an imagined flight path of a stunt plane. Measuring 70m in length and 77t in weight, Slipstream is the longest permanent sculpture in Europe.

Another design highlight of the new terminal is the 54,000m² wave-like roof reflecting three stages (check-in, security, and departures lounge) that a passenger goes through before taking the flight. The wavy roof structure dips as the passenger completes one stage and then rises as they proceed to the next.

Sustainable features of the new terminal

Widely acclaimed as Heathrow’s most sustainable terminal yet, the redeveloped T2 received numerous awards, including the Sustainability Leaders Award in November 2013.

Most of the material obtained from the old T2 demolition was either recycled or reused.

The new terminal is also claimed to contribute 40.5% less carbon dioxide emissions than a comparable building built in compliance with the UK’s 2006 building regulations. The closeness of the terminal to runways and taxiways, in addition to the special layout of the aircraft stands, are aimed at significantly reducing ground-level emissions. It also allows for the operation of larger and fuel-efficient aircraft such as the A380.

Other energy-saving features of the terminal include an elaborate scheme of skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximise the flow of natural glare-free light, glazed façades with solar-controlled glass and angled louvres to prevent heat gain, and water-efficient fittings to minimise potable water use.

The terminal relies on renewable sources for 20% of its energy needs. Apart from using 1,000m² of photovoltaic panels on its canopy, the new terminal has a wood-fired combined heat and power-generating facility comprised of highly efficient gas boilers and a cooling centre.

T2 is anticipated to be the world’s first airport terminal to receive the prestigious BREEAM certification.

Contractors involved

Spain-based architecture firm luis vidal + architects are the concept and lead architects for Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 and are collaborating with Pascall + Watson during the fit out phase. Luis vidal + architects (LVA) was the lead architect for the new terminal. Foster + Partners were the Heathrow Airport master planners and the East terminal building concept architects during the initial project phase.

Pragma Consulting worked with the design team to determine the space requirements for the terminal based on passenger profiles and forecast traffic.

UK-based architectural firm Grimshaw Architects provided design services for T2B.

HETCo, a joint venture between Spanish company Ferrovial Agroman and UK-based construction company Laing O’Rourke, was awarded a contract in 2008 to demolish the old terminal and build the new main terminal building, including the aircraft stands and cooling station.

Laing O’Rourke was also awarded the contract to build the multi-storey car park, as well as the associated approach roads.

The satellite pier and the underground tunnels connecting the main terminal building were built by UK-based infrastructure group Balfour Beatty.

UK-based architecture company Chapman Taylor was appointed lead consultant for the development of the retail areas at the terminal.

Robert Bird Group, a consulting engineering company, provided structural engineering services for the project, while Turner & Townsend, a professional services company, provided programme management, project management, and cost management services.

Mace, a consultancy and construction company, and Siemens, a technology company, are the baggage system contractors.

Design and installation of the instrumentation and control systems were completed by Fujitsu, security systems company Tyco, engineering company Firstco, telecommunications specialist BT, and Mott MacDonald, a management, engineering and development consultancy.

Elevator and escalator supplier Kone was awarded a contract to supply 18 escalators, 12 auto-walks and 40 elevators for the T2 project in September 2011.

Infrastructure consulting company AECOM was awarded a contract for the creation of a new infrastructure for a permanent T2 baggage system in October 2019.

Some of the other contractors involved in the project include AiQ Consulting, an aviation consultancy; Vital Energi, a low-carbon energy generation and energy distribution solutions provider; and Costain, an infrastructure solutions provider.

Other contractors include Cousins Group, a decorating and painting solutions provider, JDZ, a mechanical, electrical and plumbing consultant, VGC Group, a provider of skilled workers for civil engineering projects, and CMF, an architectural metalwork company.

AHR, an architecture and building consultancy services company, Premier Technical Services Group, a construction company, and Honeywell, a smart building solutions provider were also involved in the project.