Heathrow Airport is London, England’s largest airport. Despite all of the traffic they experience on a daily basis, employees are bracing themselves for the thousands of athletes who will be heading for home following the closing of the Olympic Games. According to Bloomberg, the airport has opened a special terminal for the estimated 8,000 participants who are expected to catch flights on Monday.
On average, Heathrow handles around 95,000 people per day. However, as athletes, trainers, and tourists begin their exodus from London, the airport is anticipating nearly 116,000 individuals to walk through their doors. The influx of travelers will cause a 22 percent increase in the amount of traffic they contend with on a regular basis.
The Independent reports that Colin Matthews, chief executive officer of BAA, claims Heathrow spent $31 million over seven years to prepare for this Olympic-sized increase in business.
“Olympic departures present a fresh challenge with new facilities like the Games Terminal being used for the first time,” he said. “We have been preparing for seven years to deliver a farewell of which the whole country can be proud.”
In order to make the athletes feel comforted during their departure, airport officials spared no expense in dressing up the terminal for the Olympians. The building was lined with plants, benches, and a mock double-decker bus. Included in the design was a special tree for participants in the summer games to leave a message about their fondest memories.
“We wanted to give the athletes a great farewell,” Matthews said. “The enthusiasm of our staff and our volunteers has been infectious. We want to build on that.”
Although Heathrow will consume the majority of these flights, other airports are expected to see a bump in business as well. Sarah Baranowski, a spokesperson for Gatwick airport, explained they were expecting nearly 70,000 departures following the closing of the Olympic games.