Heathrow press releases

07 September, 2017

350 cyclists race Air Canada flight to Toronto in Heathrow’s Race the Plane charity challenge

Race the Plane 2017


  • Heathrow’s second annual Race the Plane charity challenge kicks off as 350 cyclists race a flight in real-time
  • Air Canada flight 869 departed from Heathrow to Toronto this morning with cyclists already having raised over £94,000 for charity
  • All donations to be shared among Heathrow’s charity partners – Oxfam, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards and the Heathrow Community Fund


In the second year of Heathrow’s Race the Plane charity challenge, 27 teams of cyclists are hoping to race 3,546 miles faster than the time it takes for an Air Canada Boeing 777-300 to reach Toronto. This year’s event has already raised over £94,000 for Heathrow’s charity partners.

Air Canada flight AC869 took-off from Heathrow’s Terminal 2 this morning as 350 cyclists prepared to clock-up enough miles to beat it to Toronto. The challenge is taking place on stationary wattbikes underneath the iconic Slipstream sculpture and participants and spectators can track their progress in real-time on social media with the hashtag #RaceThePlane.

All money raised will be split equally among Heathrow’s charity partners – Oxfam, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards and the Heathrow Community Fund.   


Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

"Race the Plane is one of Heathrow's biggest charity events of the year and with over £94,000 already raised before the flight takes off it has been a huge success! It’s not going to be easy racing a plane travelling at nearly 600 miles per hour, but with our charity partners Oxfam, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards and the Heathrow Community Fund cheering us on – I’m confident we’ve got a shot a beating Air Canada flight 869 on its way from Heathrow to Toronto.” 


Captain Deane Taneda from Air Canada said:

“Air Canada is proud to be a part of today’s Race the Plane challenge at London Heathrow. As the Flight Captain for flight AC869 from London to Toronto, I am extremely impressed that over 350 people have given up their free time to take part in this incredible race to raise money for three important U.K. charities. With over 3,500 miles to cover it will certainly be no mean feat. We wish the cyclists the very best of luck.”




Notes to Editors:

About our charities

Everyone is welcome to donate towards this year's fund at: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/racetheplane2017

In 2013 Heathrow and Oxfam teamed up to launch a three year long collaboration. Heathrow set its sights on finding a high profile partner with global reach, a partner that would be easily identifiable to the thousands of passengers passing through its terminals every day. Oxfam’s 70 year experience in fighting poverty and changing lives around the world was a good fit for Heathrow. The partnership engages both Heathrow colleagues and customers, raising over £1,000,000 for Oxfam so far, making a lasting difference to the lives of people living in poverty. This partnership has recently been extended.

Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award, giving millions of 14 to 24-year-olds the opportunity to be the very best they can be. As part of Heathrow’s commitment to youth social action, we became a diamond jubilee sponsor of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2016. In addition to fundraising, Heathrow continues to work with local communities to identify volunteering opportunities which our colleagues can support.

Heathrow Community Fund

The Heathrow Community Trust administers grants to charities and community groups in the immediate environs of Heathrow Airport. It is funded from four sources – an annual donation from Heathrow Airport Ltd, donations from other companies located on the airport site such as John Lewis, staff fundraising, and fines made to the airlines for exceeding noise limits. More than £528,000 was awarded in grants in 2016. Grant funding is available for community projects covering Communities for Youth (youth skills, aspiration and employability); Communities for Tomorrow (projects that help protect the local environment, provide community green spaces or increase community awareness of the environment); Communities Together (smaller community focussed projects to reach isolated elements of the community); and HAPi – Heathrow Active People in the community a funding scheme enabling Heathrow staff to support community activities that they also give time to – from PTAs, to Scouts, to sports teams.

About Heathrow

Heathrow is Europe’s largest airport and one of the world’s top international aviation hubs. As the UK’s global gateway, Heathrow welcomes more than 76 million passengers every year with a commitment to making ‘every journey better’. The airport is home to more than 80 airlines and is Britain’s largest cargo port, helping to drive British trade growth by connecting the nation to more than 190 destinations around the world. Following an investment of more than £11 billion over the last 10 years, Heathrow is currently ranked by passengers as the 'Best Airport in Western Europe’ for the third year running and the ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ for eight years in a row.

For more information please contact the Heathrow Press Office on 0208 745 7224.