UK air navigation service provider NATS reports that it has handled record levels of traffic during the period surrounding the London Olympic Games while simultaneously reducing delays.
NATS has reported that traffic in the London area was up 3.5% for a number of days, compared with the same period of 2011, peaking at 4.5%. Most of this was additional business aircraft movements, exemplified by the fact that traffic at the specialist business aviation airports at Farnborough and Biggin Hill rose by 16% and 19% respectively on peak days.
Air traffic management-related delay in the Olympic period amounted to 593 minutes compared with the same period of 2011, when it was more than 13,000 minutes, according to NATS
NATS managing director Martin Rolfe said: "In the spirit of the Games, the whole operation came together to make sure that NATS played its part in what was an extraordinarily successful Olympics. The years of planning and training certainly paid off and it could not have gone more smoothly."
Meanwhile, Oxford airport reported that the biggest traffic boost occurred just before the Olympic opening ceremony, and that the most significant increase was in "heavy metal" movements. Biggin Hill reported that it had provided parking for 80 Olympic-related movements, summing up what appears to be a consensus within the industry: "It was not quite the party we expected, but we didn't end up looking like idiots either."
A more detailed analysis of the effect of the Olympics on business aircraft activity, and its implications for UK aviation policy, will appear in the 4-10 September issue of Flight International.