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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Heathrow Olympics Chaos Predicted

As I noted earlier this month, Heathrow believes that its temporary Terminal 6 will be able to cope with the departing Olympics VIPs after the Games.

All very well, if you are a departing VIP. However, what of those coming to the UK before and during the Games?

It seems no one running Heathrow has thought of that. Step forward Culture Select Committee chairman, John Whittingdale, who has pointed out the elephant in the room and said that not enough thought seemed to have been given to ways of coping with long queues at immigration.

Seemingly, the much maligned and inept UK Border Agency (UKBA) is whining that it has insufficient money to open all of its passport stations.

Mr Whittingdale is quoted by the BBC as saying that MPs:
"did not leave the briefing confident that Heathrow was ready to cope with the arrival of a huge number of competitors, Olympic family and visiting tourists in timely fashion.

We understand that significant preparations have been made to accommodate unusual sporting equipment, special lanes for the Olympic family, welcoming arrangements for competitors and additional Olympic ambassadors. 

However, far less thought seems to have been given to the issue of how to deal with long queues at immigration.

The UKBA (UK Border Agency) representative suggested that there was insufficient funding to ensure all passport stations would be open.

While visiting tourists will understand that the Olympics is a busy time, if the wait (at immigration) is in excess of an hour it may deter tourists from returning.

The second impact may be that planes cannot unload their passengers into the terminal due to capacity being exceeded. This would lead to circling in the air, planes being left on runways or planes blocking gates."
In other words, Heathrow will be more of a shambles than ever during the peak travel season.

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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