What Heathrow Terminal 5 Should Have Been

I got to fly out of Tianjin’s new airport last week. The airport has a striking glass front. The airport is a large sweeping open hall.

I had a very smooth experience. I got through check in, immigrations and customs very quickly. Everything had a nice new shine to it.

Contrast this to the absolute chaos at the opening of Heathrow Terminal 5. Beijing Capital Airport has also recently opened a new terminal. Then I realised it would be interesting to compare them.

Tianjin Binhai Airport

Beijing Terminal 3

Heathrow Terminal 5

Passenger capacity 10 million passengers per year. 60 million passengers per year by 2020 (whole airport) 30 million passengers per year.
Area 116,000 square meters 986,000 square meters 465,000 square meters
Shopping area 2 shops in the international departures area. 45,200 square metres commercial area 18,580 square metres, which is about 150 retail units.
Aircraft spaces 40 66 60
Public transportation Number 113 bus Buses and subway line extension Tube, buses, trains, bikes
Public consultation time Less than a second Dunno 525 days
Build time Seemingly overnight 47 months 66 months
Cost Some money Some more money £4.3 billion
Taxi fare £5 £30 from Tianjin (I know a guy) Are you mad? (or rich)
Bags lost 0 0 Enough to build terminal 6
Architecture Nice Huge Masterpiece

Tianjin BinHai Airport

I guess it would be unfair to compare the airports. Beijing Airport is massive but it needs to be in order to serve millions of Olympic visitors. Tianjin’s new airport was a smaller project on the outskirts of the city. Heathrow is blessed with one of the worst possible locations for an airport and locals who are unfortunate enough to be harassed by the daily noise.

In time, Heathrow Terminal 5 will become a good and efficient terminal, and in time Beijing and Tianjin will need to build yet another airport to cope with its growth. If you think I am kidding, an article from The Economist claims that Beijing is already planning a second airport.

But it would be nice if Britain’s construction projects were not not a laughing stock.

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