Did You Know Helicopters Used To Directly Connect London’s Heathrow And Gatwick Airports?


Getting between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and London Gatwick Airport (LGW) is time-consuming and requires a journey by either rail or road. For a time back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was possible to transfer between the two airports in 15 minutes by helicopter.

Before we get into the helicopter shuttle, let’s first talk a little about where Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport are in relation to each other. London Heathrow is located 15 miles west of central London, while London Gatwick Airport (LGW) is located 30 miles to the south of London near Crawley in West Sussex.


Getting between the two airports

The quickest and most efficient way to get from the airport is to take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes with a journey time of 15 minutes from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. From Terminal 4 and Terminal 5, add another five minutes.

A second option is to take the London Underground using the Piccadilly line. Because of all the stops, the journey takes around 55 minutes.

The best way to get to central London from Gatwick is to take the Gatwick Express train. The service operates every 30 minutes and has a journey time of 30 minutes. Currently, there is no direct rail link between the two airports which means if you need to get between the two airports by rail or underground, you will need to change in central London.


The other option is to travel by bus with National Express and Megabus offering a direct link. A one-way ticket costs around £25 and can take anywhere from 1hr to 1hr 25 minutes depending on what bus you get and the traffic.

A third option is to shell out for a taxi. Taking a taxi between the two airports may be the easiest option, but it comes at a price. A black cab ride between the two airports can cost over £100 one way. Rather than charging by the mile, London black cabs charge by the minute. It should take around 45 minutes to get between the two airports, but it could be costly if you are unfortunate enough to get stuck in traffic.

A better option is to pay for a private taxi service in advance to meet you at the airport. The advantage of this is that you know the price upfront and that there will be a driver waiting for you in the arrival area of the terminal.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

It used to take 15 minutes by helicopter

It may be hard to vision now, but forty-something years ago, getting between Heathrow and Gatwick airports could be done in 15 minutes and cost just £12 (£75 today). You also have to remember that back in 1978, when the helicopter shuttle started, there was no M-25 motorway. Without the London ring-road highway getting between the two airports took much longer than it does today.

With passenger numbers at both airports rising year-on-year, British Caledonian Airways and British Airways Helicopters decided to offer a shuttle service between London’s two busiest airports. The British Airports Authority (BAA) owned both airports and agreed to the Airlink joint venture. British Airways, provided the pilots and British Caledonian Airways the ground crew.

The helicopter chosen for the job was an American-built Sikorsky S-61. The helicopter could seat 28 passengers and, with six flights each way per day, accommodate the estimated 64,000 passengers per year that was envisaged.

The big drawback with the helicopter shuttle was that the flight path took it over densely populated areas of London. Because of this, flights were only allowed to operate between 06:30 and 21:15 because of noise restrictions.

Despite only being allowed to operate from morning until late evening, various groups like the Gatwick Conservation Area Campaign and the Federation of Heathrow Anti-Noise Group campaigned against the flights. They argued that a bus link between the two airports was a better solution. British Airways countered those claims saying that its business and first class passengers would not be happy having to take a bus.

The helicopter shuttle lived up to its initial estimates carrying 60,000 passengers a year during the years it operated. When the M-25 motorway opened in 1986, Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley decided that Airlink was no longer needed and revoked its license. This proved to be a big blow for British Caledonian Airways and partially led to them ceasing operations two years later.


Read Next




Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Article

Pete Davidson Confirms ‘SNL’ Exit in Goodbye Note, Thanks Team for ‘Always Believing in Me’

Next Article

Mick Jagger on Harry Styles: 'Superficial Resemblance to My Younger Self'

Related Posts
Read More

Section tags in Layout

armin September 14, 2022, 6:48pm #1 Heyo: i had my sketchup scenes set to show section planes in…