Heathrow Airport may not be able to cope with the extra number of passengers during the Olympic Games, warn MPs. A letter seen by the BBC from Culture Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale sent to Culture, Media and Sport secretary Jeremy Hunt, outlines Mr Whittingdale’s concern over Heathrow’s ability to cope with the arrival of ordinary passengers during the Games.
It said: “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.”
Airport operator, BAA, said waiting times at Border Control were “frequently unacceptable” at peak periods and has asked Border Force to address the problem before it’s too late.
The sentiment is echoed by warnings made by four airlines earlier this year (British Airways, BMI, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic), and also by Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, who said failure to act could harm tourism “for years to come”.
Border Force says it is now working with BAA to ensure it will be ready to cope with the extra passengers.