A private jet, and a limo… Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
Ahead of the Olympics, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority was expecting upwards of 10,000 flights by general aviation aircraft – that is, anything from hang gliders to transatlantic private jets – during the busy games period.
The authorities prepared by asking ACL, the country’s co-ordinator of airport take-off and landing slots, to take management of 40 air fields in the south-east of England (some critics argued this was going overboard). And they demanded that people entering the games’ restricted airspace on private aircraft receive security clearance before take-off.
But the numbers so far suggest any influx of Olympic private flyers is merely making up for others avoiding London. ACL reports that 7,400 of the general aviation slots have been booked for the period between July 21st and August 15th – just a few hundred more movements than in a normal year.
“It’s looking busy but manageable,” says a spokesman for the CAA.
Darren Grover, chief operating officer at London City Airport, has seen the trend on the ground. The airport lies just four miles from the Olympic park and within a few javelin throws of the ExCel Centre, where, Mr Grover points out, Team GB has won many of its medals. (ExCel hosts boxing, judo, wrestling, fencing, taekwondo, weightlifting and table tennis.) Read more
The stands at Olympic events are dotted with small children. Their parents have usually kitted them out in expensive replica kits. It is clearly all meant to be a great family day out, a treasured memory and so on. But, usually, it does not work out like that.
The problem is that the average five year-old has limited patience with watching the heats for the women’s shot put – even if the tickets were fiendishly expensive and hard to get hold of. Young children are also bad at dissembling. I was in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning, as Jessica Ennis closed in on gold in the heptathalon. The adults in the crowd were going crazy, as she prepared for the long-jump. But the child behind me, made it clear that he was much more interested in eating a Kit-Kat. As the morning wore on, his hapless parents were ground down by their toddler’s repeated question – “Is that one Usain Bolt?” After a couple of hours, Bolt actually did appear to run his heat. But the kid had long since interest and was now campaigning to go for a wee. Read more
A fleet of rather old-fashioned cleaners are keeping London Bridge station in tip-top shape over the Olympic period. We spoke with one on Friday morning.
Is this your first London Olympics or were you here in ’48? Read more
Boris Johnson on the London Underground earlier this year. Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages
Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, is not normally lost for words. But for once the most high-profile local British politician has fallen silent. Transport for London has confirmed it has stopped playing a pre-recorded message by Mr Johnson.
The recording was aimed at encouraging Londoners to replan their journeys to allow for a deluge of visitors expected during the Olympics. The message, which warned of “huge pressure on the transport network” was pulled on Tuesday, a move which coincided with reports that overzealous warnings by TfL had scared people off coming to central London and had damaged business. Read more
China's Ye Shiwen after the finish of the women's 200m individual medley semi-final on Monday. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GettyImages
Your morning warm-up is a bit late today, for which, apologies – we’ve been busy with the big story which remains Ye Shiwen, the 16-year-old Chinese swimmer whose incredible performance on Sunday raised some eyebrows. Shiwen, who will be aiming for another gold today, was quoted by China News Service as saying: “My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs.” We’ll have more on this story from our Beijing bureau very soon. UPDATE: The story is now live: Chinese social networks defend Shiwen.
Highlights from today’s schedule include:
Swimming - Men’s 200m Butterfly final due to take place at 19.47. Michael Phelps will be out to avenge Saturday’s defeat by his US teammate Ryan Lochte. Ye Shiwen will also be back in the pool for the Women’s 200m individual medley final at 20.39.
Equestrian - The British equestrian team will be looking to overhaul rivals Germany in the final section of the three-day event competition, the showjumping, in Greenwich Park
Gymnastics - China, the US and Russia are likely to battle it out for the podium spots in the final of the women’s team. Read more
Unlike my more privileged colleagues, I do not have a press pass. I have been taking part in the spectator marathon – which had been advertised as a grim and gruelling event.
On Saturday I set myself a tough challenge – get to the Excel centre for the boxing. Unlike the main Olympic Park, which is served by several Underground lines, the Excel can only be reached by the Docklands Light Railway. I have always thought of the DLR as a toy-town system of the sort beloved by urban planners, but useless for actually getting around. In the event, however, we whizzed through Docklands and even got seats on the train.
Spectators are advised to get to events two hours early, to get through heavy security checks. But we actually breezed through in minutes. Even the emergency deployment of the military as security guards appears to have added a dimension to the experience. People were actually posing for photos with the soldiers – which I cannot imagine them doing with the average G4S security guard, whose uniforms are rather less fetching. Read more
The Javelin train (and Boris) (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Journalists are a cynical bunch the world over it would seem, or at least Down Under. The Australian press pack have spotted what they claim is the Achilles heel in the much-maligned Olympic transport plan and one of their veteran sports reporters, who has just turned up in London to cover his third Olympic Games, felt obliged to inform the FT’s transport correspondent of the problem.
The issue is not apparently with one of the underground lines to the Olympic Park at Stratford, which have had their share of problems in the build-up to the opening ceremony later on Friday. Nah mate, it’s the flagship high-speed Javelin train, the newest, shiniest and quickest way to get to to Stratford. Running a shuttle service every six minutes during the Games from the gleaming spires of St Pancras station in north London this smooth, air conditioned seven minutes ride is a far cry from the hot, oppressive and not always very reliable trains on the Tube. Read more
Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Thursday July 26 has been billed as Heathrow airport’s busiest day ever, but it may not turn out that way.
For months, BAA, Heathrow’s operator, had forecast that a record 244,000 passengers would pass through the airport, with numbers swelled by those converging on London for the Olympic games.
But on Thursday BAA cut its forecast to 227,000 arriving and departing passengers, which means July 26 would not beat the previous record of 234,000 set in July last year. Read more
The editor of FT Weekend, Caroline Daniel, came across this handmade sign in a London cab earlier this week. It serves as a nice illustration of Hannah Kuchler’s story from today’s newspaper, from which: Read more