London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) is a major international airport serving London, England, known as London Airport from 1946 until 1965. Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in West London, Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the World (as of 2012) in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe. It is also the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic and the third busiest by traffic movements, with a figure surpassed only by Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport.
Heathrow is London's main airport, having replaced RAF Northolt and the earlier and better-known Croydon Airport, and together with Gatwick, Southend, Stansted, Luton and London City, London is the busiest city airport system in the world by passenger traffic (with 133,666,888 passengers travelling through the six airports); and second only to New York City in terms of traffic movements. The airport sustains 76,600 jobs directly and around 116,000 indirectly in the immediate area, and this, together with the large number of global corporations with offices close to the airport, makes Heathrow a modern aerotropolis which contributes an estimated 2.7% to London's total GVA.
The airport is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which also owns and operates three other UK airports, and is itself owned by FGP TopCo Limited, an international consortium, which includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and GIC Special Investments, that is led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group. Heathrow is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic. Heathrow lies 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) west of Central London, and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers 12.14 square kilometres (4.69 sq mi). Terminal 5 was officially dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 March 2008 and opened to passengers on 27 March 2008.
Construction of a new Terminal 2 complex to replace the old terminal building and adjacent Queen's Building began in 2009 with the first phase expected to open in 2014. Terminals 3 and 4 underwent major refurbishments between 2007 and 2009. In November 2007, a consultation process began for the building of a new third runway and a sixth terminal, which was controversially approved on 15 January 2009 by UK Government ministers. The project was subsequently cancelled on 12 May 2010 by the Cameron Government. The airport holds a Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P527), which allows flights for public transportation of passengers or for flying instruction.