One of this years biggest events – the Olympic Games is set to be a national celebration of sporting excellence, however it seems that the games is set to cause delays at Heathrow airport frustrating UK travellers.
UK Border Agency policy documents, warn of long queues at Heathrow Airport due to the high number of visitors expected to enter the country ahead of and during the tournament in July and August. This volume of visitors may lead to non-Olympic passengers being held up, as priority treatment will be given to travellers connected to the game.
The documents warn that delays may be caused by the collection of biometric data on incoming passengers, including fingerprints.
A ‘key risks’ section in the document states:
‘The collection of biometric may result in passengers being unduly delayed passing through border control’.
‘Dedicated lanes and the time taken to collect the biometric of GFM (Games Family Members) may result in delays to non-Olympic passenger journeys’.
25,000 athletes, officials and coaches could be given priority treatment if a new fast-track scheme is introduced.
To cope with the huge numbers of passengers, airport immigration staff will be transferred from their normal duties to help.
Heathrow is set to handle 80 per cent of Olympic-related traffic, including athletes, kit, officials, sponsors and media.
The day after the closing ceremony August 13 is set to be the most difficult day for the airport, with around 218,000 bags set to pass through the airport.
A spokesman for Heathrow said the airport will be ready to cope with the extra crowds.
“Around 15 per cent of bags will be outsize sporting equipment, such as canoes, vaulting poles or bikes, which cannot be processed through normal baggage systems”.
“Options being considered to manage the extra demand include baggage drop facilities at the Olympic Village, shipping some baggage as freight and construction of a temporary ‘Olympic terminal’, which would be taken down after the Games”.
Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive added:
“London 2012 will be Heathrow’s greatest challenge”.
Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh