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London's busiest airport opening new terminal

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By David Stewart White

A closed terminal is not what you want when you operate one of Europe's busiest airports. But that is the situation that has plagued London Heathrow since late 2009 when the airport's bustling Terminal 2 was closed for reconstruction. But a brand new Terminal 2 is slated to open on June 4. The first scheduled customer, barring delays or flight cancelations, will be an early morning United Airlines flight from Chicago.

The original Terminal 2 was Heathrow's oldest, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1955 and originally named the Europa Building. By its close in 2009, the terminal was decidedly decrepit and operating far beyond its design capacity. The shining new and energy efficient replacement is "designed with the passenger at the heart," says John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's Development Director. "It will bring together technology, architecture and human touches. Our goal is to make every journey better for our passengers and bringing together 25 airlines in this light and airy space..."

The new terminal builds on the experience of Heathrow's other new terminal. Home turf for British Airways, Terminal 5 opened in 2008, but its debut was chaotic. The new terminal's baggage handling system broke down, creating mountains of misplaced luggage. Those problems were eventually solved and the two satellite terminals have been added to the modern Terminal 5 complex.

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