Heathrow-5 opens amidst protests

Published: Tuesday 15 April 2008

Amidst protests, queen Elizabeth ii officially opened Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 on March 14. The Queen, who had opened first passenger terminal at Heathrow in 1955, described it as "a 21st century gateway to Britain".

The 4.3-billion (us $8.5- billion) terminal, set to start operating on March 27, will be used exclusively by British Airways and will handle up to 30 million passengers a year. This will increase Heathrow's annual passenger numbers to about 95 million.

Heathrow is already one of the world's biggest airports, but has been plagued by overcrowding due to soaring demand for air travel. The government and the British Airways hence want to build a third runway.

The plan is, however, facing strong opposition from environmentalists, some local people and even London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, on pollution and congestion grounds.Greenpeace activists breached security at Heathrow last month, staging a demonstration on top of a jet against the planned new runway. Three days later, protesters from a group called, Plane Stupid, made headlines when they managed to get on to the top of parliament. Another group, No Third Runway Action Group, has threatened of "flash mob" protests during the terminal's opening.

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