Airlines See Chaos in Olympics

LONDON – Four major British airline warned that the government must do more to prevent flight delays and disruption at airports in London during the Olympics.
Britain hopes to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to the games, including more than 10,000 athletes and about 20,000 journalists.

British Airways, BMI, EasyJet, and Virgin Atlantic said in a letter to the government, published Saturday, that the increase in air traffic during the Olympics means that any security emergency or problem could cause climatic chaos, unless special measures.

“As it stands now, the industry believes that there is a significant risk of severe delays and disruption in all major airports in London, unless urgent action is taken,” they wrote in a letter to the Reuters¬†agency.

The airline said that problems can be reduced if air traffic controllers change their practice and give priority to commercial flights on private flights.

The airlines, government, and aviation officials will meet Thursday to discuss plans for the Games, to be held from July 27 to August 12.

London Heathrow Airport, the busiest in the country, operates at a 99% capacity on an average day, while Gatwick, south of the capital, operating at full capacity during times of high demand.

Contingencies such as poor weather conditions have caused immense problems and long lines in the past.

Shops and airlines have said for some time that Heathrow needs a third runway to meet growing demand, as the government blocked on environmental grounds.

Fears airspace

In the letter sent to the Government, airlines are six areas of concern. These include the elasticity of airspace to take over the number of planes that take off and land during the Games, any climate impact and effect of any security incident.

It is also stated in the document that air traffic controllers had submitted five proposals to prioritize flights in southeast England during the Olympics, but were rejected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA, for its acronym in English).

The signatories wrote that the British Department for Transport had the mistaken impression that the industry was satisfied with the measures had been taken so far.

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