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The Olympic Games and UK Airports

Buzz Poole
03/20/2012 - 00:00

This year, London hosts the Summer Olympic Games, which runs from July 27 to August 12, and is followed by the Paralympic Games from August 29 to September 9. According to this Bloomberg Businessweek article, the two events will bring 320,000 visitors to London. For residents and anyone who has visited in the last couple of years, heavy construction throughout the city demonstrates how it has been contorting itself to make preparations for the festivities. Already one of the word’s pricier cities when it comes to hotels, any available rooms are exorbitantly marked up. But the Olympics only comes along once every four years, so for the athletes, their friends and families and sporting enthusiasts of all stripes, money is secondary.

 

But even if you have your room and tickets booked, it seems like flying in and out of London might be one gigantic mess. What’s even worse, for travelers who have no intention of visiting London this summer, their travel plans might also be disrupted even for connecting flights due to the surge of visitors. According to this Daily Mail article, “British Airways, bmi, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have called for the government to take ‘urgent action’ to cope with delays which could be caused by security measures and bad weather.”

London area airports are hectic on any given day so just imagine what will happen this summer. As the Daily Mail article points out, there will also be an influx of unscheduled flights, meaning everything from chartered flights bringing in national teams to private jets zipping in from across the globe. Add to this a larger than usual number of media helicopters hovering above London for aerial shots and these big UK airlines seem to be justified in their concerns. Their letter to the government insists: “Failure to respond leaves the UK vulnerable to the type of major disruption that will cause significant reputational damage and would be fool-hardy and reckless.”

But, it is worth noting that London is no stranger to adversity when it comes to hosting the Olympics. In 1908, London stepped up to fill in for Rome after the 1906 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius forced the Olympic Committee to search for a new host city. In 1948, London again welcomed the Olympic Games, the first to take place after World War II.

Apparently, both Games went off without any major issues, so what’s a little air traffic congestion? While I’m sure all those participating and attending the Games this summer will have the time of their lives, if you don’t need to move through any UK airports this summer, probably best to avoid them.

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