As Heathrow continues to run at 99 percent capacity, it’s evident the capital city needs more runways. Within the next 10 years, it’s possible that passengers will be landing at an airport in the middle of the Thames rather than flying over it before they land.
The plan from a consortium formed by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, sees a futuristic-looking six-runway airport constructed on an artificial island just off the Isle of Sheppey, a location about 80 kilometers from the center of London.
The project, if approved, is estimated to take seven years and cost around £47 billion ($76 billion). The choice of mid-river location was made to avoid adding to the already exhaustive aviation noise pollution that constantly torments Londoners.
On the man-made island would be the proposed London Britannia Airport, an oval-shaped structure bisected by runways. Interlinked transparent hemispherical pods would be used to cover the passenger and concourse areas, allowing natural light to penetrate the building for the vegetation planned inside.
According to the Greater London Authority, passenger numbers to London’s airports are expected to increase from the current 127 million to more than 300 million, a figure that will see passenger traffic more than double by 2031.
Heathrow, which is currently the busiest passenger airport in Europe and the third busiest airport in the world, would eventually close if the proposed Britannia Airport is approved.