The British Airports Authority (BAA), which operates Heathrow Airport, is to build a temporary terminal for departing athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The £20m Games Terminal will be the departure point for 10,100 athletes, and will offer a bag-collection facility from the Olympic and Paralympic Village. The terminal will help manage the 35% rise in passenger numbers and baggage forecast for the days after the closing ceremony.
Heathrow Olympic and Paralympic Planning head Nick Cole said that the London 2012 Games will be a unique operational task and a massive challenge for Heathrow.
"The airport is one of the most popular international airports in the world and already operates close to capacity," Cole said.
Under the plans, a new 70m x 55m temporary special games terminal will be constructed on what is now used as a staff car parking area. The terminal will be equipped with 31 check-in desks, which will be dismantled after the games.
The challenge for BAA is to disembark a large number of passengers with reduced mobility from aircraft. It will also have to handle a 45% increase in arriving passengers on the day before the Opening Ceremony.
Construction firm Mace was awarded the contract to build the new terminal. Work will begin in late February and be completed by 30 May 2012.
All passengers will travel through the normal customs procedures when arriving at Heathrow.
Olympic Games organisers are expecting 390 Olympians and 140 Paralympians equipped with 800 firearms to pass through Heathrow. These will be checked by the Border Agency at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Image: A new temporary terminal at Heathrow will be built to handle 10,100 departing Olympic athletes. Photo: Warren Rohner.