This aviation blog post is part of a series on trip planning for the 2012 London Olympics and continues from our last post on 6 Important Tips for Successful 2012 London Olympic Games Planning.
When planning a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, you may need to request services such as ground handling, hotels and transportation. Prices, including cancellation fees, will be elevated during this period, so have a firm schedule put together as early as possible. Aircraft parking, hotels and other services will be in high demand, so requesting them ahead of time is of the upmost importance. The good news is that there are several airports in the area that can offer all the flight services you will need for this event.
1. Select the right aircraft ground handler
Pick a ground handler that offers you the most suitable services for aircraft handling, customs clearance and paperwork. It’s best to find a ground handler that can arrange and pay for services in advance so crews do not have to deal with charges after arrival. Be aware that handlers may impose cancellation or other charges during the Olympics period. Ground handlers will also add operational personnel ahead of the event to assist with the large number of flights expected. It’s best to get an estimate of services if there are such concerns. Furthermore, for passenger dropoffs, please take into consideration that, because of current fuel truck availability constraints, estimated turnaround times for fueling during the Olympics period will depend on the destination.
2. Arrange auxiliary services and security
Contact your ground handler early regarding in-flight catering orders. Reviewing online menus in advance is recommended. Talk with your caterer regarding how much notice is required for changes to pre-booked requests.
Pre-booking fuel is advisable. There may be fueling delays during peak periods; however, many handlers plan to try to increase fuel truck availability where possible in response to heightened demand.
While the U.K. authorities are working hard to add security measures for this important and large event, it’s always recommended that you speak with your security provider about security concerns for your destination. You should review security reports about not only the country and airport, but also the hotels. Depending on local airport rules, private security may be permitted on airport ramps. Customs, immigration and quarantine procedures will remain the same at U.K. airports despite the security increase, primarily because the local airport authorities want to maintain a “business as usual” operating model in that respect. No additional requirements in terms of background checks or vetting of passengers and crew are anticipated in the U.K. during this period.
3. Book hotel rooms and ground transportation early
Most hotels in the London area are already taking reservations for the Olympics period. To avoid problems, hotel accommodations should be arranged as soon as possible. Many chains are suspending usual crew rates, asking for payment months in advance and imposing minimum stay requirements (up to 17 days). Additionally, some are requesting minimum food purchases. In many cases, no modifications to bookings will be allowed and no refunds given.
Make ground transportation arrangements early, as demand will be very high. For ground transportation, there are many options, including public transport, taxi, pre-paid transport (vehicle with driver) and secure pre-paid transport (arranged with a security service provider). Depending on local airport rules, crew and passenger transport may be permitted on the ramp. There will be closed lanes throughout the City of London for International Olympics Committee members and people with accreditation. This may cause significant traffic delays, so it is wise to allow for extra time to get to your destination.
4. Be careful about changes to your schedule
For any changes to the schedule, we recommend you consult your ground handler or 3rd-party provider for availability of runway and airway slots prior to making changes. No deviations are available for runway slots. Everyone must adhere to the slots that have been approved for their flights in order to avoid lengthy delays. Slots for RONs (remain overnights) will only be confirmed if parking is available.
Local services and parking will be in high demand during the 2012 London Olympic Games. It’s best to begin the planning process early and be aware that short-notice schedule changes may be challenging and difficult to accommodate.
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About Jason Hayward
Based in London, Jason Hayward, general manager for Universal Aviation U.K., is an expert on ground support and operations into the United Kingdom. He’s been with Universal since 1997 and has more than 17 years’ experience combined in aviation handling and operations. A native of the UK and veteran of the Royal Air Force, Jason has been instrumental in helping establish Universal Aviation offices around the globe. Jason is also an expert on coordinating operations and handling for special events and was Universal’s point person for the 2012 London games. He’s shared his insight on operations and special events with many industry publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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