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We look at the figures behind London Heathrow Airport following approval of plans for a third runway

Flights every 45 seconds, for a year takes...
75 million passengers, 20,000 tonnes of books, £3 billion worth of jewellery in and out of London's Heathrow Airport...

London Heathrow Airport - Money Facts

Various sources

Transport secretary, Chris Grayling: 'The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK'S place in the global aviation market - securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.'
The Guardian, Oct 2016

"No new full-length runway has been laid down in the South East of England since the 1940s... The airport accommodates more flights on its two runways than any equivalent airport in the world."

Airports Commission: Final Report
July 2015

70 years of commercial aviation

"The first aircraft to take off from Heathrow was a converted Lancaster bomber called Starlight that flew to Buenos Aires (1946). The early passenger terminals were ex-military marquees which formed a tented village along the Bath Road. The terminals were primitive but comfortable, equipped with floral-patterned armchairs, settees and small tables containing vases of fresh flowers. To reach aircraft parked on the apron, passengers walked over wooden duckboards to protect their footwear from the muddy airfield."

Flights from the new third runway at Heathrow will produce the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as Kenya every year."

Global Justice Now, 2009

"Expansion at Heathrow would drive a substantial increase in employment at and around the airport, generating an additional 59-77,000 jobs in 2030 for local people"

Airports Commission: Final Report, July 2015

Villages will be lost or partly demolished

The construction of Heathrow's third runway, new terminal and services will affect homes, lives and communities. 783 homes will be demolished. 3,000 more homes will be bought, deemed too noisy or polluted, their inhabitants re-housed. Harmondsworth Village will be partly demolished, its 11th Century Church is at risk. 100,000s more Londoners will be exposed to noise pollution.

Heathrow's Top 5 Exports

"Over 345,000 tonnes of British produce was exported through Heathrow from August 2014 to September 2015. Fresh Salmon is the UK's number one export by weight via Heathrow, with 46,000 tonnes exported in the most recent 12-month period, the same weight as 230 blue whales."

Lloyds Loading List, Nov 2015

London Heathrow is Europe's busiest airport

Heathrow is Europe's busiest airport. According to 2014 figures there were 1,400 aircraft movements (takeoff and landings) each day. That makes it the world's 11th busiest airport by aircraft movements. A third runway would allow up to 740,000 per year. At today's figures, that would place it third in the world for takeoffs and landings - and the biggest for international aircraft movements.

Heathrow is already one of the world's busiest hubs. In 2011 it was connecting with 61 long-haul destinations. According to UK Government proposals a third runway will connect Heathrow with 84 long-haul destinations and add another 260,000 flights each year.

Heathrow exports - Top 5 Destinations

Lloyds Loading List, 2015

Heathrow handles 1.5 million metric tonnes of cargo per year
"A key strength of an expanded Heathrow would be its ability to build on its strength in the air freight sector and support growth in this important market."

Airports Commission, 2015

London Heathrow Airport - 2nd busiest airport by international passengers

"A trick to making the most of Heathrow's runways comes clear in the routing of inbound airliners. They go first to one of four beacons at each corner of the airport, where they circle in stacks-each one 1,000 feet above the other-waiting for controllers to direct them in. The stacks supply a constant reservoir of airplanes to put-rapid-fir-onto the pavement. The steady stream of airplanes from the stacks guarantees the runways never go idle."

Air & Space, 2007

If airports elsewhere weren't being built or expanded, the projected increase in total passengers numbers from a third runway would make London Heathrow Airport the biggest in the world.

(using predicted figures from, Oct2016)

If Heathrow had a third runway now, it would be the busiest airport

Heathrow won't be the biggest airport in the world

Heathrow's plans for a third runway are dwarfed by comparison with mega-airports being constructed elsewhere. Dubai World Central's Al Maktoum Airport will have 6 runways and serve 160m passengesrs when completed in 2025 at a cost of $82 billion. Istanbul New Airport will also have 6 runways serving 150m passengers - set for completion 2017.

Beijing's Daxing will have 9 runways - due 2018.