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an airport that's handling 68 million passengers, and it was designed for 45 million
Despite handling 10 million fewer passengers a year, Paris's Charles De Gaulle airport has four runways; Amsterdam's Schiphol is 20 million behind, and it has six.
why is one of the world's busiest airports and its surrounding netherworld located 15 miles from London, on a site chosen during the second world war, now boxed in by housing, and expanded and altered over 60 years with precious little strategic vision? You only need travel abroad to grasp what's wrong: while so many of the world's airports now offer acres of space, futuristic flash and carefully designed passenger comfort, Heathrow has the distinct air of a project made up as people went along. It is, in effect, a very British botch-up.
According to an incongruous alliance of people who have been recently raising their voices, these 4.6 square miles are now among the most unpleasant places in Britain. The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone recently claimed that Heathrow "shames London" and offers "appalling conditions" in which passengers are effectively kept prisoner in a "ghastly shopping mall". Sir Terence Conran thinks the airport has become a "really horrible place". One government minister - Kitty Ussher, who sees to the affairs of the City of London - has talked about the airport's negative impact on the high-flying international financiers on whom we are so often told our national wellbeing depends: a matter, she says, of problems with security, passport control and a mind-bending layout that amounts to "Heathrow hassle".