London Airspace on High Alert for Olympics

 - July 17, 2012, 4:10 PM

London is on high alert as Olympic airspace changes and a slot allocation extension to 40 airports (rather than the usual four) kicked in this past weekend, and visitors start to arrive ahead of the summer games opening ceremony on July 27. Slot coordinator Airport Coordination Ltd (ACL), based at London Heathrow Airport, reported that approximately 5,000 bookings have been registered for slots at the 40 airports, though it expects this number to reach 7,000 or 8,000.

“No one airport is full but some are busier than others, notably Farnborough and Biggin Hill,” said an ACL official. The company is managing the booking of takeoff and landing slots, although operators need to book these through the airports concerned.

U.S. aircraft operators flying to the Olympics in London should also be aware of possibly longer flight times due to new airspace restrictions, holding and diversions. Additionally, visiting aircraft operators are being advised to contact UK aircraft handlers to ensure proper planning.

Military air defenses have also been heightened. The HMS Ocean, a Royal Navy helicopter carrier, is moored in the Thames River and four Eurofighter Typhoons are on quick-reaction alert at RAF Northolt. Additional military helicopters are at Northolt and Ilford, a temporary military heliport adjacent to the Olympic site. Meanwhile, Rapier ground-to-air missiles have been installed on several London buildings and there are Starstreak missiles situated at two undisclosed sites.