Major structural work on a new £2.5 billion terminal at Heathrow has been completed ahead of its opening in 2014.

The new Terminal 2 will be capable of handling 20 million passengers a year as part of a £4.3 billion development of the London hub by owner BAA.

Originally designed to deal with 1.2 million passengers a year, it was handling 8 million when it closed in 2009.

Ahead of a topping out ceremony, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said the work “puts us within touching distance of a future where Heathrow has some of the best facilities in Europe”.

He said: “There’s a lot still to do, but the opening of Terminal 2 could move Heathrow into pole position among European hub airports and allow us to set our sights on elite airports such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Incheon in Seoul.”

Transport secretary Justine Greening told the BBC: “For tens of millions of people each year Heathrow is their first impression of the UK, which is why it is so important that it is a positive one.

“We have been clear that we want to improve the experience of those travelling through our airports, and this new terminal will do just that.

“This is also a success story for the country’s construction industry, with British-made steel, electronics and engineering responsible for a state-of-the-art facility.”