Singapore Changi Airport won the award for the fourth year running. In Europe, Heathrow was beaten only by Munich in a credible third place, and Zurich just ahead in seventh. Despite being the butt of many jokes and complaints, when it comes to competing on a world stage, Heathrow performs well.
The massive improvement in the passenger experience must of been a key factor. Since 2003, £11bn has been invested improving the airport. The old outdated and unloved Terminals 1 and 2 have been demolished. Terminal 5, BA’s dedicated terminal opened in 2008. The new Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal opened in 2014. Upgrading has also been undertaken at Terminal 3 and work is underway at Terminal 4.
Whilst the terminal experience has been transformed for the better, the chronic lack of runway space remains. The two runways are inadequate at peak times resulting in too many delays to both arrivals and departures. Additional capacity is desperately needed, but has been a politically difficult project to approve.
Despite opposition and resignations, the government has given the green light, much work though remains. A public consultation is the next stage, with a final vote unlikely until 2018. If all goes well, construction is likely to start in 2021.
Even with three runways, Heathrow will still lag behind Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt both with four, and even further behind Amsterdam’s Schiphol with six. Probably the only way London could get an airport of comparable capacity would be with the so called Boris Island, a brand new airport located East of London alongside the River Thames.