Don’t Expect Empty Seats!
It looks like this summer’s going to be a busy one at London’s Heathrow Airport. An estimated 80% of all visitors with flights to London for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are expected to pass through the airport. That’s almost 60,000 passengers including 12,850 athletes and 14,700 accredited media as well as marketing partners, officials and – of course – the spectators. To ensure that these visitors’ first experience of London and the UK before the Olympics will be a positive one, the British Airports Authority (BAA) is upping its game to deal with the high volume of flyers.
Normand Boivin, Chief Operating Officer for Heathrow Airport, along with his “Team Heathrow” at BAA have designated the period between June 27th to the 1st of October as the “critical period for the airport to focus on the Games.” The three month timeframe stretches well ahead of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on July 27th to well after the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony on September 9th.
Peak times for arrivals and departures when “passenger and baggage volumes will be the most challenging Heathrow has ever faced” will include the following dates:
• July 16th: Peak day for arrival of Olympic athletes;
• July 26th: The day before the Olympic Opening Ceremony and peak day for arrival of sponsors/media;
• August 13th: The day after the Olympic Closing Ceremony;
• August 22nd: Peak day for arrival of Paralympic athletes;
• August 28th: The day before the Paralympic Opening Ceremony and peak day for arrival of sponsors/media; and
• September 10th: The day after the Paralympic Closing Ceremony.
The single busiest day during this time as well as the busiest in all of Heathrow’s almost 85 years of history is expected to be August the 13th, the day after the London 2012 Olympic Games closing Ceremony, when approximately 138,000 departing passengers (45% more than usual) will pass through the airport en route to destinations across the globe.
To meet the demands of so many extra passengers, fifty full-time BAA staff members are working as part of “Team Heathrow” to prepare the airport for the Games with more staff as well as a thousand volunteers lined up to join in on Olympic related duties as the Games draw nearer. One measure of particular focus is to open a separate temporary terminal for exclusive use by more than 10,000 departing athletes. Features such as bag collection from the Olympic Village as well as extra lifts to link Paralympians in wheelchairs with their equipment are hoped to ease the logistical strains of the summer.
For more details on how Heathrow is “fine tuning” its activities for the upcoming Olympics (not to mention the usual influx of tourists and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations this summer), check out BAA’s recently published “Six Months to Go” document.
Photo: The Aslier