Advice to NBAA members on flights to 2012 London Olympics


Panel advices plan and book early, otherwise you might be disappointed

industry panel discussion on 20 September 2011 answered lingering questions
about general aviation flights to the 2012 London Olympics and revealed that
not all procedures are yet in place.

“The UK National Air Traffic Service (NATS) is developing an entirely
new airspace structure for business flights during the Olympic games,”
reported Charles Alcock, moderator of the “Practicalities of the
Olympics” event held in conjunction with the annual UK Business Aviation
and General Aviation Day at Cambridge
Airport. Earlier special
airspace rules had been criticised by business aviation interests for both
overreaching time restrictions and bias in favour of airlines. The duration of
flight restrictions has already been reduced to 14 July through 15 August;
Olympic events run from 27 July through 12 August.

The new Olympic Games airspace structure is expected to be released in
November and will be posted at\olympics, the central
point for all government Olympic airspace information.

In addition to a 60-mile diameter restricted zone from almost the south
coast of England to near Cambridge north of London,
a smaller prohibited area will be in effect around the London Olympics venues.
Reservation slots will be needed for all 40 general aviation (GA) airports
surrounding London, and moderator Alcock said
that several of the airports will be exhibiting at NBAA’s 64th Annual Meeting
and Convention in Las Vegas,
NV in October, to provide
additional information.

“Some airports are constrained by operating hours, some by ramp
capacity,” said Alcock. “It’s already next to impossible to use
Heathrow or Gatwick. What we’re going to see is the need for operators to be
willing to use airports further removed from the immediate Olympic area, or
perhaps dropping off passengers and repositioning.”

“We are advising our customers and charter brokers to book early…
there will be capacity constraints,” said panelist Trevor Jones of Gama
Aviation. He said that once a slot is issued, changing the slot time will
invalidate the original reservation and a new slot could be “many hours

Some airports are already accepting reservation slot requests, Alcock said
and cautioned operators not to overbook slots in hopes of more freedom of
choice. “Airports are requiring a non-refundable deposit,” he said.
“There are plenty of slots right now, but the most desirable times will go
quickly, so plan ahead.” He added that NATS officials told conference
participants that more than 3,000 additional aircraft movements are expected
during the event, for a total of 10,000 or more flights in the London area during the restricted period.

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive of London Executive Aviation,
urged operators to educate their London-bound passengers in advance. “If
customers are serious about chartering next summer, we urge them to
ensure…there is time to have the flight approved.”

“The good news is that business aviation operators who make their plans
and preparations well will get the best available slots,” said Alcock, who
added that refueling services and other considerations will make trip planning
more complicated at every stage.

“My personal advice for operators who aren’t familiar with the London area is to
seriously consider using a flight planning company that is familiar with the
area and procedures,” he said.