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Olympic stories: Happy landings

London 2012's Arrivals and Departures Manager Chris Mankelow describes the experience of planning transport logistics for the largest sporting event in the world.
by Ben Sawtell

nullI joined the London Organising Committee of the Olympic & Paralympic Games (LOCOG) in 2009, with a remit to design the arrivals and departures process for the 70,000 accredited Games Family, which ranges from Heads of State through to photographers and, of course, the athletes themselves.

As you can imagine there's a myriad of stakeholders, but the two organisations I liaise with the most are the UK Border Agency and BAA, the operators of Heathrow and Stansted airports.

Initially my job involved establishing a process framework which led to LOCOG contracting BAA for a range of airport services, in return for use of the London 2012 brand. This agreement was a watershed moment in our planning and led to Heathrow becoming the official host airport of the Games.

Once this framework had been implemented, my role was about agreeing where the arrivals area for officials and athletes London 2012, known as the overlay, would be within Heathrow's already busy terminals. This involved many hours of discussion and a rigorous process of testing and proving, but days before our first Olympic arrivals landed, the overlay was complete and a trained workforce were ready to go.

The role has really evolved from being initially strategic, right through to being in charge of an operation consisting of 600 paid staff and volunteers.

Of course, it isn't purely about people. It is also about firearms, horses, greater volumes of wheelchairs, transport to and from the airport and passengers with considerably more baggage than usual.

It has been a fantastic journey over the past four years and my next role will probably struggle to match this, but you have to move on to fresh challenges in your career and I look forward to using the skills and experience I've gained at LOCOG in my next role, wherever that may be.

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