London Flight Bookings Soar 72% for Day Before Olympics Opening Ceremony

If you’ll be flying into a London airport on July 26, you might run into some delays. According to media reports, 72 percent more passengers will arrive in the city that day than the same date last year. The difference: this year July 26 marks the eve of the London Summer Olympic Games.

Everything to Know about the London Olympics

14,000 More Travelers on Olympics Eve

The 72 percent jump in travelers translates into roughly 14,000 additional passengers navigating London airports. According to the UK’s Financial Times, other heavy traffic Olympic dates include Aug. 1 and Aug. 4 as well as the day after the closing ceremonies. The games run from July 27 through Aug. 12.

London Airport ‘Chaos’ Feared

Airport Delays, Long Lines

The British government has been trying to get a better handle on passenger figures in recent months as delays at Heathrow began receiving extensive media attention. During the spring, reports of long lines at customs – with passenger wait-times of an hour or more – prompted airline and airport officials to join together to demand action.

Insider Guide to Best London Attractions

Who is Coming for the Olympics, Who is Staying Home

Overall, passenger numbers will rise 13 percent during the entire Olympic period. About 20 percent of those travelers will come from the United States, with departures from New York up nearly 50 percent.

Other big increases were seen among travelers from Brazil, China, India and Russia with a combined increase of about 40 percent. Brazil led the other nations with an increase of more than 80 percent which may be understandable as Rio de Janeiro plays host to the next Olympics in 2016.

The London Olympics is not a draw for everyone – the combined passenger figures from Italy and Australia are expected to be down about 25 percent compared to the year before.

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Published: June 6, 2012