Some of the biggest Olympic teams will not use Heathrow Airport – and its specially constructed £20m Games Terminal – when they return home on chartered jets.
Teams said to include China, Australia and Canada, will leave from Stansted airport instead after the Games. This is because officials at Heathrow say they will not be able to accommodate charter flights during the exceptionally busy Olympic period, for fear of disruption to scheduled services.
One Olympic charter flight did leave Heathrow yesterday, however – a special gold-liveried Airbus A319 named The Firefly.
Bound for Athens with the flight number BA2012, it carried David Beckham, the Games committee's chairman Lord Coe, the London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Princess Royal the Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, and five teenage athletes. They will collect the Olympic torch at the Panathenaic Stadium in a ceremony this evening.
The Firefly will return to RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall on Friday, with the torch relay beginning at Land's End the following morning.