A single data point does not make a trend, but with London gearing up for the summer Olympics starting in July, there continues to be sufficient travel experiences that raise questions about whether all elements of the air transport sector are ready to handle the rush of activity.
It is not just in the business aviation sector where preaparedness may not be where it needs to be (see our story on that topic here), but also the airport and border security elements of the transport chain.
One example was a recent experience at London Heathrow Terminal 3, what will be one of the busiest facilities.
A recent 747-400 arriving from Asia found its way on-time to the gate, but was unable to access its stand because of a parked vehicle. Authorities had to be called in to judge whether it was safe for the 747 to move to the stand or have to be diverted to the another. Once the 747 arrived at stand, and passengers got ready to disembark, ground power failed.
Upon disembarking, about 50% of moving walkways on the way to immigration were not operative, as were all three of the U.K. Border Agency’s e-border machines (during the same period, the e-border machines were technically operating, but not properly functioning).
Now, even more pressure may be put on the systems as the U.K. grapples with lax immigration controls in the past. Home Secretary Theresa May on Feb. 20 told parliament the U.K. Border Agency would be shaken up and the Border Force broken out to strengthen its operations. A new "operating mandate for border control" is being drafted, May says, which "will detail the minimum level of mandatory checks for all passengers; it will set out which additional checks apply to which groups of passengers; and it will cover the opening of chips on passports, interviews for visa holders and the use of Secure ID."