Though first proposed way back in 1971, it wasn't until 2015 that major buzz began to surround the plan, when a report from the Airport Commission suggested that a third runway at Heathrow would be the best step forward in tackling the high numbers of passengers and flights passing through each day.
Heathrow is currently operating at 98 percent capacity and Gatwick, London's second busiest airport, is expected to run out of space in a few years, meaning runway expansion is essential for adding new flights and keeping up with Europe's bigger hubs.
At the moment, Heathrow can operate 480,000 flights per year. The third runway is expected to increase capacity to 740,000 flights annually—matching the air traffic of Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. The addition of those 260,000 new routes is good news for travellers.
Airlines will be able to add connecting flights to other airports in the U.K., as well as new, direct flights to fast-growing markets like Brazil, Russia, India, and China. (Low-cost carriers Flybe and Easyjet have been the first to share proposed route maps, both focusing on flights within the U.K.).
The new runway will also require two new terminals to be built, an expansion that the airport claims will cut minimum connection times from 75 minutes to 60. Also proposed is extra public transportation to the airport to ensure limits on road congestion are met: 18 Tube trains an hour from the city centre to Heathrow would increase to 40, and there have even been talks of a designated bike path.