London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow 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 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 Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport. Heathrow is London's main airport, having replaced RAF Northolt and the earlier Croydon Airport. 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 led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group that includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. Heathrow is the primary hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic.
Heathrow lies west of Central London, and has two parallel east–west runways along with four operational terminals on a site that covers . A consultation process for the building of a third runway and a sixth terminal began in November 2007, and the project was controversially approved on 15 January 2009 by Labour government ministers. It was subsequently cancelled on 12 May 2010 by the Cameron Government. The first phase of a new Terminal 2 complex which replaces the old terminal and adjacent Queen's Building is due to open in June 2014.