London Olympics . . . . Plan! Plan! Plan!

EBACE in May was jam-packed with exciting presentations and exhibitors. The Flight Attendant Symposium was an indicator from my perspective of the desire of a professional group of caterers and trainers to get involved in European Business Aviation
Crew Symposiums of the future.

The presentation at the Flight Crew Symposium on the upcoming London Olympics was eye-opening to say the least. Having experienced the 1996 Olympics here in Atlanta, I feel the catering and other service industry providers for the general aviation community are much more informed on the planning taking place than we were back then.

Advance planning and organization are the key to any large event’s success . . . and we learned of the necessity for months of planning during the Flight Crew Symposium. I’ll note some of the information that Terry Yeoman from Rockwell Collins Flight Services and the London-based and other European caterers shared about the upcoming London Olympic planning sessions.

The UK Department for Transport offers up-to-date information about the airports; for available slots, flight patterns; Security (NaCTSO: “Raising the Bar on security for London 2012”) for necessary proactive measures you must take before you arrive for the Olympics.

Awareness of the many goings on in England this summer may encourage you to plan ahead. As mentioned by Terry Yeoman in his presentation, some of the events scheduled in the next few months that will have a direct impact on the aviation community and its available services are:

  • Olympic torch relays 18 May – opening

  • Chelsea Flower Show 22-26 May

  • HM Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee 02 Jun – 05 Jun

  • Euro 2012 (Poland / Ukraine) 08 Jun – 01 Jul

  • Trooping the Colour 16 Jun

  • Royal Ascot 19 Jun – 23 Jun

  • London 2012 Festival 21 Jun – 09 Sep

  • Wimbledon 25 Jun – 08 Jul

  • Henley Royal Regatta 27th June – 1st July

  • F1 British Grand Prix 06 Jul – 08 Jul

  • Royal International Air Tatoo, Fairford 07 Jul – 08 Jul

  • Farnborough Airshow 09 Jul – 15 Jul

  • British Open Golf (Lytham) 15 Jul – 22 Jul

You don’t really want to wait until the last minute to try to schedule your arrival and ground services while all this is occurring, do you? In addition to slot allocation, and no fly zones, you can access road closures and roads that will be open just for VIP travelers. I suggest you download the information as soon as possible and make your advance plans to help eliminate potential “surprises” you may encounter closer to the games opening and closure. “Slots for drop and go or parking will be “fully coordinated” during the period 21 Jul to 15 Aug for IFR flights at 40 different airports throughout the London area” according to Mr. Yeoman.

Peak days for ground services will be around the opening ceremony July27 (but with peak arrival days from July 25-27) and especially high demands around the closing ceremony, July30; And again for the Paralympics on August 13.

With an estimated 5,000 flight departures for the Olympics, are you sure that you will be able to get what you want without preplanning? Even the caterers in cities throughout Europe that have aircraft positioned at their cities, will see an increase in business from an event not even in their country. From my past experience, remember to book early.

When I spoke with Graham Coate of First Class Cars he told me he was surprised that those arriving for the Olympics who had slot reservations, had not requested a car to be held in their name until they knew their plans. A word of caution, there are a limited number of cars available during the Olympics and you don’t want your passengers caught without transportation. A simple phone call to reserve a car will keep you from finding later that there are no available vehicles left. Key word: Plan ahead!!

Representing the catering industry at the symposium were: Daniel Hulme of Allison Price on Air London Matt Rickard with Absolute Taste with locations in London and Geneva , and Neil Pope with Air Culinaire London Also finding that they would see some of the effects of the Olympics impacting their cities were Nicola Hubert from Marsden Catering Zurich and Pierre Rambroul from Paris’s Upper Sky Catering, all leaders in the European General Aviation Catering industry.

The impact on their business will be huge, and in order to exceed their client expectations with the additional restraints on them from both a security and volume standpoint, we must all work together to achieve a flawless end goal that our passengers will see. Neil Pope, Operations Director, Air Culinaire-London commented that “With all the steps that go into pre-planning an operation to the 2012 Olympic Games, such as slot reservations, parking, and booking hotels, it’s easy to overlook the importance of preplanning in-flight catering.” Daniel Hulme with Allison Price on Air London notes that he has been advised that catering directly to an aircraft on any airport could take more than an hour to clear security even with all of the permits and passes his company has secured. Security will be very tight! Plan for delays based on security.

Here are some suggestions by the caterers in attendance for those of you who plan and order catering for your passengers and crew will need to consider when placing your catering orders for the Olympics:

  1. ORDER EARLY. Check with your catering source to find out what their company deadlines are going to be and make sure you get your order in before the caterer reaches capacity for production of your order. Some caterers may have a 48-hour or 72-hour cutoffs.
  2. Many of the caterers already have an Olympic menu in place which could limit what is available to you. Contact your catering source NOW and get their Olympic menu so your passengers and crew can see what is of interest to them.
  3. BE PRECISE in your ordering; give plenty of details so there is no doubt what you want and how you want it packaged. Last minute changes may not be possible, and correcting a miscommunication may not be possible due to long security lines.
    Shopping for specialty items (flowers, wines, chocolates) will require more notice as there are numerous road closures and a great deal more expected traffic to an already congested area.
  4. Security will be tight, really tight, and catering deliveries may have up to a 2 hour wait to clear security just to get on the airport to meet your plane. This means the caterer will depart the kitchen more than two hours prior to a scheduled delivery time, so no changes can be made once they depart the kitchen. Is your caterer going to have a miscellaneous supply “box” with them of those wonderful items you may have forgotten like milk, cream , lemons, plates, etc.
  5. Pop-ups and add-ons to an order may not be possible due to security lines and traffic delays.
  6. Call your FBO to learn how they are handling the delivery of catering. Do they plan to have refrigeration available; are they expecting to have each order delivered to the aircraft? What happens if your aircraft is being parked some distance from the FBO; how will your catering be delivered, held and by whom?
  7. Call your caterer. You have numerous caterers in the London market, some with facilities at the airports, some a distance away. What happens if you, the crew, are delayed in an airport security clearance line and the caterer arrives at the aircraft before you? Can they wait?
  8. Inquire about fees to clear security and what they are as these added charges for the Olympics will be in addition to regular delivery fees accessed by the caterer.
  9. Inquire about laundry and linen service. Who will handle this for you; what time limits will be required to turn around the line?
  10. Inquire about off loaded catering items; where will they be stored? Or ,even, will they be able to be stored?
  11. If you are repositioning the aircraft outside of the London area, it might be best to pick up catering before flying in to pick up your passengers?
  12. Plan, Plan, Plan. Don’t be caught off guard by assuming that reserving a car, catering, or acquiring a parking slot will be possible when you decide to make your plans. Get on the vendors “list” so they can plan for your needs. You do not need to have a catering order prepared now, but, you should organize a slot in their production time during this peak period.

Check out your catering source NOW to allow them the opportunity to exceed your expectations!

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