Olympic athletes given priority treatment over passengers at Heathrow

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

New measures to cut delays at Heathrow

 

Passengers using Heathrow and communities around the airport could benefit from reduced delays, less stacking and fewer unscheduled night flights at the UK’s busiest airport as part of a trial of new measures announced today by Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers.

The measures are set out in the final report by the Government’s South East Airports Taskforce which has been published today. They are focused on making Heathrow more resilient and better able to recover on days when the airport’s operations are disrupted by poor weather or other problems.

When such problems occur, these proposals would allow, exceptionally, both Heathrow’s runways to be used simultaneously for either arrivals or departures as a way to cut delays and cancellations and get punctuality back on track.

The Task-force also endorsed plans for a switch to a smarter, more effective and more passenger-friendly airport security regime for all UK airports – details of which have also been published today for consultation.

Set up to identify operational improvements at the UK’s three busiest airports – the South East Airports Taskforce included representatives from airlines, airport operators, regulators and other interests.

Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said:

“Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports play a vital role in supporting the UK economy. Improving the reliability of these airports, particularly Heathrow, was a priority for the Task-force.

“These measures have the potential to deliver greater reliability for passengers, while reducing the impact of unscheduled night flights on local communities. Trialling these changes will allow their benefits and impacts to be assessed and there will be extensive engagement and consultation with local communities before any decision is taken on whether to make the changes permanent.

“Coupled with today’s proposals to give UK airports more flexibility in the way they deliver airport security, passengers should begin to see real improvements. I am grateful to all Taskforce members for working so constructively together to help make our airports better.”

Under existing arrangements, Heathrow operates largely on a runway alternation system, whereby one runway is used for arrivals and the other for departures – with the roles reversed halfway through the day to provide respite from noise for residents living near the end of the runways. The Government has made clear its support for the continuation of runway alternation.