Aircraft operators struggle to deal with Olympic VIPs
aircraft operators say they are struggling to find ways of transporting VIP
customers during the London Olympics.
will be prohibited from flying over London, between July 14 and August 15,
unless they are inbound to or outbound from Heathrow, London City or RAF
Northolt and are under air traffic control. A reservation system will also mean
that aircraft wanting to land in one of the 58 coordinated airports across the
South-East of England between July 21 and August 15 will have to apply for a
slot in advance.
this could be an exciting opportunity for airports outside of the restricted
zones, James Dillon-Godfray, business development director for London Oxford
Airport, is not convinced that the Games will bring as much traffic as some are
think there has been a lot of hype. London, Biggin [Hill] and Farnborough will
fill up first and then we will get a lot of phone calls asking if we have
space,” he says.
than 60 miles from the centre of London, and with parking space for 40
aircraft, the airport has been taking bookings since 5 September 2011. As
things stand, it will operate on a first come, first served basis throughout
the duration of the Olympics, with a “drop and go” policy when full.
This could change, however, as demand inevitably increases.
the end of February, the airport has shared its owners with The London Heliport
at London Battersea. An attractive feature of the Heliport is that it will
benefit from an exemption to the no-fly zone during the Olympics, meaning that
operators can fly-in VIP guests from Oxford in less than 25 minutes. The
problem with this arrangement is that the Olympic Stadium is located is in
Stratford, which will require visitors arriving at the Helipad to travel
another 10 miles east across central London.
are still doing things that we were talking about three years ago,” says
Michael Hampton, managing director at Capital Air Services. “We have
people ringing us all the time asking what we can do for them in the Olympics.
The answer is very little, apart from getting them into Battersea.”
alternative may be the Rolls Royce shuttle service, which London Oxford Airport
is offering its VIPs as a way into the city. This may be of little use though,
with many main routes due to be shut or restricted, and some speculating about
mass road blocks caused by protestors.
Dillon-Godfray says: “It does not matter how rich they are, how famous we
are, they are going to have to get on public transport at some stage.”
in turn is creating more worries for people already living and working in
London, with rumours spreading that passengers will have to wait for up to an
hour before boarding a train on the Docklands Light Rail – where Stratford is
situated. “A lot of [aircraft] owners have told us to stay well away from
London,” says Dillon-Godfray.