Airport International News - April 2008
Flight Cancellations at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5
Posted by Mark Broadbent on 07/04/2008 - 12:21:06
Flight cancellations are continuing at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 after further technical problems with the facility's baggage system, and adverse weather over the weekend.
At the end of last week, British Airways - which is the exclusive user of the £4.3 billion terminal - announced it was planning, for the first time, to operate a full schedule of services from the terminal over the weekend, after nine days of extensive delays and cancellations since the terminal opened on 27th March.
However, a glitch in the automated baggage system on Saturday caused the cancellation of 24 flights, while heavy snow in southern England on on Sunday caused 144 flights into and out of T5 to be cancelled.
Today, Monday 7th April, there are 34 flights from T5 which have been cancelled as a result of the delays experienced over the weekend.
Airport International advises passengers using Heathrow today to check the British Airways website or the Heathrow Airport flight information website for the very latest updates:
Snow Causes Heathrow Flight Delays
A British Airways spokesman said that the cancellations and delays on Monday were not caused by the baggage system, but simply by the effect of the snow yesterday.
During Sunday morning, both runways at Heathrow were shut down for 20 minutes at different times so the accumulated snow and ice could be cleared, and aircraft de-iced.
The BA spokesman said: "The [cancellations are] simply because of the weather yesterday...there were a number of aircraft that were out of position which means that had a knock-on effect with the schedule today".
On Saturday, the baggage system - which has been one of the causes in the delays which has seen hundreds of flights cancelled and thousands of bags go missing - suffered a software glitch.
This problem was eventually rectified by engineers from the airport's operator, the British Airports Authority (BAA), which operates the baggage system.
BA said it was "incredibly disappointing" that it could not operate its full schedule of services, after it had announced at the end of last week that it was planning to do so.
Terminal 5 Problems Blamed on BAA
As cancellations and delays continue, a leading union official representing BA ground staff has blamed the problems experienced at Terminal 5 on BAA.
Mick Rix, the national officer for transport at the GMB union, told the Daily Mail: "The true story has not come out. My members who are down there working - double shifts in many cases - know exactly who is responsible for this mess and humiliation. I'm not saying that BA was faultless, but the real and fundamental problems are down to BAA".
He added: "Who is responsible for security? BAA. Who was responsible for lifts? BAA. Who was responsible for the public address system going down? BAA. Who was responsible for the leaking toilets in club class lounges? BAA. And most important of all, who is responsible for the baggage system? BAA".
Contrasting to this, over the weekend the airline pilots' union Balpa repeated its criticism of British Airways that it first voiced last week.
Jim McAuslan, Balpa's general secretary, said that BA has become a "laughing stock" due to T5. It said the problems at the new terminal showed that the company "needs to have a different approach to management", especially in its dealings with staff.
Balpa is currently in dispute with BA over the airline's plan to hire pilots to staff its new subsidiary, OpenSkies. Balpa says that the new employees will have inferior terms to mainline BA pilots.
Source - Airport International's London Reporter
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