16 July marks the start of the busy period for Olympic arrivals and Britain’s biggest peacetime transport challenge. 236,955 passengers are expected to travel through the airport on Monday, breaking the previous record of 233,562 set on 31 July 2011. Throughout the day, Olympians will arrive from more than 50 countries. To ensure that all passengers have a smooth journey and a great welcome to the Games extra staff and volunteers are working across the airport. The full details are:
• Passengers. 236,955 passengers (121,239 arrivals and 115,716 departures) are expected to pass through the airport today compared to 190,000 on an average day.
• Athletes. 335 athletes are expected today as part of 1,027 Games Family arrivals. The busiest day for arriving athletes is expected to be 24 July when 1,262 athletes and coaches are expected as part of 3,008 Games Family arrivals.
• Volunteers. More than 500 Heathrow and Locog volunteers, speaking more than 20 languages between them, will welcome groups of Olympic athletes and officials from their planes today.
• Olympic accreditation. London 2012 accreditation desks are operational in each terminal allowing Games family members to collect their accreditation for the Olympic Village as soon as they arrive.
• Immigration. Additional Border Force officers are staffing immigration desks for the peak arrivals period, helping to ensure that all passengers have a smooth journey. Border waiting times have been within the targets set by the Home Office, which is responsible for immigration, since new resources were put in place yesterday.
• Baggage. Additional staff are on duty in the baggage hall to quickly reunite Olympic teams with their baggage and equipment. Athletes travel with around twice the number of bags as regular passengers (an average of nearly three items per athlete). Approximately 15% of baggage on peak days will be large pieces of sporting equipment such as canoes, pole vaults, bikes and javelins and around 1,000 guns and associated ammunition will be arriving with competitors over the coming days.
• Onward travel. London 2012 coaches will be operating from airport forecourts for the first time today to transport athletes to the Olympic Village. Accredited media will be using the Heathrow Express as the quickest and most convenient way to access central London.
Nick Cole, Head of Olympic and Paralympic Planning at BAA, said:
“Today heralds the start of Britain’s biggest peacetime transport challenge and Heathrow’s busiest ever period. We are expecting more passengers to travel through Heathrow today than on any day in the airport’s history. We have spent seven years preparing for the Games’ challenge. Now we are putting that planning into action with thousands of extra staff and volunteers on hand to welcome the world to London.”
“The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a marathon, not a sprint, for Heathrow. The airport has some major challenges ahead, including unprecedented numbers of departing Olympics passengers and bags on 13 August and Paralympic arrivals and departures in August and September.”
Notes to editors: Heathrow’s Olympic & Paralympic challenge
The London 2012 Games will be Britain’s biggest peacetime transport challenge. Heathrow has spent seven years preparing for the Games and has consulted with previous host airports such as Sydney, Athens, Beijing and Vancouver. 80 per cent of all Games visitors are expected to pass through Heathrow.
BAA has independently invested around £20million as part of its preparations for the Games, including:
• The construction of a dedicated Games Terminal for athletes departing after the Olympic Games. Equivalent in size to three Olympic swimming pools, the terminal has 31 check-in desks and seven security lanes to help deal with the high number of departures.
• Providing check-in and baggage collection at the Olympic and Paralympic Village;
• Building extra lifts to reunite Paralympians with their wheelchairs on arrival;
• Recruiting and training 1,000 volunteers to meet and greet passengers arriving for the Games and assisting all passengers on their journey;
• Making multilingual staff available for arriving and departing passengers;
• Providing media facilities where journalists can file stories.