Costs to rise as Heathrow books too many staff...

Bosses banked on extra 10,000 passengers today but real number could be much lower

Today had been billed as the busiest day in Heathrow Airport's history, with thousands of Olympic athletes due to arrive. But The Independent has learnt that the airport's owner, BAA, has been forced to revise down its figures after over-estimating pre-Games passenger numbers by up to 10,000 a day.

The inflated forecasts could mean that too many staff, rather than too few, could be deployed at passport control, with officials twiddling their thumbs at taxpayers' expense.

Six months ago, the owner of the London 2012 host airport specified three key dates before and after the Olympics as "critical peak times", when "passenger and baggage volumes will be the most challenging Heathrow has ever faced".

The first is today, and BAA had predicted that it would see the highest number of inbound competitors and a total of 247,000 arriving and departing passengers. But BAA has cut that forecast by 10,000, to only 1.3 per cent more than the existing record, set a year ago. BAA also claimed that 26 July, the day before the opening ceremony, would top 250,000 passengers for the first time, as inbound media and sponsors reached a peak. But the revised prediction for arrivals on that date has fallen by 11,000 or nearly 10 per cent.

Less than four weeks ago, BAA's chief executive, Colin Matthews, talked of "up to 12 per cent more passengers" than the previous high, but figures obtained by The Independent show that the busiest day will now be no more than 6 per cent higher than 31 July last year, when the current record was set.

While the reduced passenger numbers will mean less strain on Britain's busiest airport, the inaccurate original forecasts could mean that too many "contingency staff" will have been drafted in. The bills for training, travel, accommodation and overtime are met by the taxpayer, not BAA.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said: "The predictions were made based on the information from Locog, the airlines and various national Olympic committees at the time. It's constantly evolving."

The airport's main focus is on the post-Olympic exodus, the bulk of w hich will take place over three days, and airport planners predict that two-thirds of Olympic visitors will fly out on a single day: 13 August.

The original forecasts for what has been dubbed "Manic Monday" made some questionable assumptions, including that every seat on every departing flight would be filled. John Strickland, an aviation consultant, said that was "highly unlikely". On Heathrow's current record date for departures, 29 July last year, less than 90 per cent of seats were filled.

The bills for training, travel, rooms and overtime are met by the taxpayer, not BAA

...but hopefully baggage reclaim is covered

By Sam Masters

Britain's busiest airport was inundated by Olympic baggage as canoes, javelins, sails and firearms arrived with athletes and coaches for the Games.

Handlers at Heathrow reported a 27 per cent increase in arriving passengers, together with all manner of equipment, ahead of the opening of the athletes' village at the Olympic Park today. The airport held "test" events in March to check Olympic baggage could be processed. "We are expecting a lot of teams and a lot of bags," said Nick Cole, who heads the Olympic project for Heathrow. But he added: "We've got into our battle rhythm."

An estimated 980 firearms with ammunition entered Heathrow over the weekend. A service by the Channel Tunnel operators, Eurotunnel, will transport the 1,000 horses expected for the equestrian events in Greenwich Park.

Today, there will be a team of 1,000 volunteers clad in bright pink to help process the baggage at Heathrow. The day after the Games ends on August 13, an extra 43,000 passengers carrying 58,000 more bags than usual are expected to depart through the airport.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas