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.)