London 2012: Heathrow outlines Olympics strategy with temporary terminal

 Heathrow is planning to build and open a temporary Games Terminal for the Olympics.  BAA is spending more than £20m on the Games in total and they say it won’t use any public funds.   Heathrow says 27 June to 1 October will be its critical period, with 80% of Games visitors expected to pass through the airport. On its busiest expected days – 26 July and 13 August – it predicted passenger levels would increase from an estimated 95,000 on a usual day to 138,000.  However, various sources suggest that there will be many fewer non-Olympic tourists during the period with bookings down.

London 2012: Heathrow outlines Olympics strategy

Artist's impression of Heathrow's Games Terminal. Image supplied by Heathrow Airport
An artist’s impression of what Heathrow Airport’s temporary Games Terminal could look like
Heathrow Airport says it is to open a temporary terminal for athletes departing after the London Olympics closing ceremony.

Heathrow predicted 13 August would be its busiest day ever, with 138,000 passengers – 45% more than usual.

It said the Games Terminal would operate on 13-15 August. It is expected to divert up to 10,100 people and 37,900 bags from other terminals.

Airport owner BAA said it was spending more than £20m on the Games.

In addition to the temporary terminal, the money will be spent on building lifts to handle Paralympians’ wheelchairs, providing extra media facilities, and recruiting and training volunteers to meet and greet passengers arriving for the Games.

Heathrow’s Olympic programme would not use any public funds, BAA said.

Construction of the terminal will begin in February in an area currently used for staff car parking on the south side of the airport.

No flights will leave from there, with athletes bussed to departure lounges.

The airport’s head of Olympic and Paralympic planning, Nick Cole, said the Games were a “unique operational task and a massive challenge”.

“Every part of the airport is working together to ensure we can give the athletes a warm welcome and ensure all passengers enjoy the atmosphere,” he said.

Heathrow says 27 June to 1 October will be its critical period, with 80% of Games visitors expected to pass through the airport.

On its busiest expected days – 26 July and 13 August – it predicted passenger levels would increase from an estimated 95,000 on a usual day to 138,000.

It said the UK Border Agency (UKBA) would be able to use dedicated immigration lanes for accredited Games Family members, athletes, coaches, officials, accredited media and other individuals arriving.

The UKBA had also set up a special customs system to deal with the hundreds of firearms expected to be brought in by Games athletes, it said.

Baggage reclaim

Heathrow is expecting a 35% increase in baggage on 26 July and 13 August, with around 15% of the 200,000 items expected on those days likely to be oversized luggage.

The airport said it would have “insufficient capacity on carousels and floors in the baggage reclaim hall for waiting passengers”.

Measures to combat this would include standing bags up on carousels and removing some luggage from carousels to another area before customs control, it said.

The flow of passengers into the baggage claim area could also be controlled.

The airport said it would offer check-in at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for athletes leaving the Games, with their bags collected a day ahead of departure. There would also be special areas for coaches carrying Olympic athletes outside Heathrow’s terminals.

Heathrow said it did not believe the Games presented a higher security risk but it was recruiting 250 security staff “in part to give us more resilience during this summer”.

Heathrow will test its procedures and the airport has 50 full-time staff working on its Olympic programme. It said that number was likely to “increase significantly” as the Games approached.

Related BBC Stories

  • Heathrow recruits 2012 volunteers
  • Heathrow faces 2012 ‘busiest day’
  • TfL rejects ‘Olympic storm’ study

  • Key Games dates at Heathrow

    • 16 July – Peak day for Olympic athlete arrival
    • 26 July – Day before Olympic Opening Ceremony and peak day for arrival of sponsors/media
    • 13 August – Day after Olympic Closing Ceremony – expected to be busiest day in Heathrow’s history
    • 22 August – Peak day for arrival of Paralympic athletes
    • 28 August – Day before Paralympic Opening Ceremony and peak day for arrival of sponsors/media
    • 10 September – Day after Paralympic Closing Ceremony

    Source: Heathrow Airport

    How many extra visitors to London will there actually be during the Olympics?

    See Independent article from 5th November 2011 by Simon Calder

    Why tourism may be the big loser at the Olympics

    Warning that other visitors will stay away during Games


    There is also an interesting bit of research on the impact of the Olympics in Sydney and in Athens on their tourist numbers which show a fall,  at


    TravelMole. 7th November 2011

    Inbound operators see bookings plummet during Olympics

    The Olympics are having a devastating effect on bookings for inbound tour operators, according to new research.

    The 38 members of the European Tour Operators Association reported an average 95% downturn in bookings during London 2012.

    Some reported plummeting sales of nearly 100% for August.

    These members are responsible for bringing in two million tourists a year and represent more than £2 billion in export revenue to the UK economy.

    In an earlier report, ETOA members predicted a 30% fall in business during the event.

    “The expectations of visitor numbers currently circulating within the hotel industry are hugely inflated,” said ETOA executive director Tom Jenkins.

    “If UK businesses are basing their plans on data in some prominent visitor forecasts, London will suffer financially, as has been experienced by previous host cities.”

    see also The Times   19.1.2012

    Olympic call for airfields to help avoid ignominy of ‘Third World’ Heathrow

    which says that every airport in the South East of England will be regulated and the number of flights in and out of Heathrow will be cut by up to a fifth during the Olympics to prevent chaos at Britain’s principal gateway.

    Ministers fear that long delays and stranded passengers become the story of the Olympics rather than the sport. With more than 10,000 foreign media representatives arriving in London for the opening ceremony on July 27, severe congestion and confusion at Heathrow are unlikely to go unnoticed, and officials and industry executives are keen to avoid images of the airport resembling a Third World bus station.

    A task force of experts has been drawing up plans for more than a year, and a series of temporary rules, will be imposed on airports across the South East between July 21 and August 15 in an attempt to curb disruption.


    see also

    ACI  London 2012- Olympic Games and Paralympics Airspace and Airports overview

    which includes these figures for the Olympics period:

    500,000 + international visitors
     Most travel on scheduled air services
     But additional demand estimated to translate into
     700 extra charter flights
     Over 3,000 extra business jet movements
     240 state flights
     Peaks around Olympics opening and closing ceremonies
     Can be accommodated, but only if
     Use all available capacity, including smaller airfields for business jets
     Manage capacity efficiently



    ACI website (Airport Coordination Ltd)

    Olympics Airports

    Airport Slots – 21st July to 15th August 2012

    It is predicted that during the London Olympics that there will be a significant increase in the demand to use many of the UK South East airports. Unchecked, controlled airspace over the South East of England may become overcrowded which would result in an increase in flow control, and delays. To reduce this risk a reservation system has been established.

    Following extensive studies by UK authorities, a number of additional airports in the South East of England have been identified as requiring coordination over the period 21st of July to the 15th of August inclusive, for all IFR traffic arriving or departing. [IFR means Instrument Flight Rules].

    In conjunction with airspace modelling by NATS, a capacity declaration for all additionally coordinated airports was agreed by the Single Coordination Committee, set up solely for the Olympic period. The agreed airport capacity declaration can be found on the link; capacity declaration. The airports, along with dates of opening for slot bookings can be found on the following link Airport Slot Reservation Opening Schedule. The link also provides details of the slot booking process.

    Existing coordinated (Level3) airports in the South East of England are;

    London City

    Airports newly classified as coordinated (Level3), 21st of July – 15th of August 2012, inclusive;

    Biggin Hill
    Damyns Hall
    Lydd (London Ashford)
    London Oxford
    North Weald
    Old Sarum
    Peterborough (Conington)
    White Waltham