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Corps news – Embassy 38

Busy airports may leave Olympic VIPs stranded, warns Foreign Office

Heads of state could be left unable to land at London’s airports during peak times of the 2012 Olympics if embassies fail to book landing slots for charter flights early, the FCO has warned Olympic attachés.

Speaking at the recent Embassy Event Expo, Tony Humphries, the FCO’s Assistant Director of Protocol who heads up the team in charge of VIP logistics, urged diplomats to advise their heads of state and other VIP visitors to use scheduled flights at Heathrow, which is the official airport for the 2012 Olympics. During the Olympic Games, Heathrow will not be accepting chartered flights.

For those choosing to use charter flights, Mr Humphries made an urgent appeal to Olympic attachés to contact the FCO Protocol Directorate as soon as possible to make necessary arrangements for booking landing slots.

“Airports in the Southeast are going to be extremely busy during the Olympics, particularly for the opening and closing ceremonies. Any last minute-requests for slots will be difficult to meet. We would like to avoid a situation where a head of state is unable to land,” he warned.

The scramble for landing slots has begun in earnest as airports in the Southeast brace themselves for an additional 10,000 private charters ferrying business people and sponsors to and from the Games.

The Foreign Office estimates are that there will be around 120 heads of state attending the Opening Ceremony.

The Protocol Directorate has put special liaison arrangements in place for VIPs, said Mr Humphries. He also recommended Olympic attachés register on the LOCOG website to access the Exchange section for a one-stop-shop of information about arrangements for Heads of State attending the Games.

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Tony Humphries briefs Olympic attachés
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