Olympics athletes swell Heathrow departures

Today is expected to be one of the busiest days ever at Heathrow as 6,000 Olympics athletes join the usual mix of holidaymakers and business travellers leaving the UK.

The airport is expected to see 116,000 people board flights and a temporary terminal has been put in place for the departing Olympians.

Details of how the departing athletes will be process are being kept secret but reports say they will clapped into the terminal by a volunteer guard of honour.

The airport is said to have spent £20 million on facilities for Olympics visitors and handled 80% of arrivals to the UK for the Games.

Following pre-Olympics concerns about queuing times at immigration and a threatened strike by border control staff, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said he was proud of the role Heathrow played during the Games.

He said: “Heathrow is proud of the part we have played in making London 2012 a success. We hope that Olympic athletes, spectators and officials enjoyed a great welcome to London.

‘Olympic departures present a fresh challenge with new facilities like the Games terminal being used for the first time. We have been preparing for seven years to deliver a farewell of which the whole country can be proud.”

Due to the departing Olympic visitors Gatwick is also expecting to be busy with traffic tomorrow expected to be 15% higher than a normal August week day.

According to one tour operator and holiday rental accommodation specialist, the end of the London Olympics has seen the hoped for spike in bookings.

Laurence Hicks, director of CLC Leisure said: “The end of July and beginning of August were relatively quiet but suddenly we have seen this massive upswing in booking and enquiries.

“Either we Brits don’t want the party to end and intend to carry on celebrating the success of Team GB with a holiday or we are worn out by the emotional extremes of watching the games and need a break.

“We knew that there would be a late booking trend this year because people wanted to be part of a once in a lifetime experience of London 2012 but the sudden rush has exceeded all expectations.”

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