Airport International News - March 2008
Heathrow Terminal 5 Set for Second Day of Delays
Posted by Paul Fiddian on 28/03/2008 - 10:39:18
The second day of Heathrow Terminal 5’s public use is expected to bring with it more delays after a catastrophic opening day.
As Airport International yesterday reported, by late afternoon, all luggage check-in was suspended after the new terminal’s hi-tech baggage system broke down.
As these words were written, further chaos was anticipated. So far today, over 30 departing flights have been cancelled, while passenger queues are mounting up.
Reduced Flights from Terminal 5
British Airways has stated that, today, it plans to run a reduced service of just 80 per cent of flights from Terminal 5: according to its website, 36 departures due to leave on the 28th March have been scrubbed.
At present, British Airways is the only airline using Heathrow Terminal 5. In response to yesterday’s problems, it says additional staff have been drafted in, and discussions have been taking place to try and suppress the complications that marred Terminal 5’s first day of business.
A number of travellers ended up sleeping in the terminal last night.
In a statement issued yesterday, British Airways offered its apologies to those affected by the delays.
"We would like to apologise to passengers for any disruption to their flights”, it said.
“ [The delays are] not unexpected following one of the most complex and largest airport moves in history".
Willie Walsh, BA’s Chief Executive, added: "I am very sorry that the problems have meant that some of our customers did not experience the true potential of this amazing new building."
The airline has instructed passengers to keep an eye on its website (www.ba.com) for updated information.
36 Cancelled BA Flights
According to a BA spokesman, today’s 36 cancelled flights are not long-haul services, and alternative flights to the same destinations will be available.
Those travellers unable to leave Terminal 5 yesterday were offered accommodation expense payments of £100. However, reports have come in that some hotels around the Heathrow area were charging as much as double this amount.
David Wilshire, Conservative MP, has spoken of the issue of whether British Airways, or airport operating group BAA, is culpable for Terminal 5’s chaos.
“The problem is getting to the real truth of this”, he said.
"'Not my fault, guv, maybe his fault guv' is, I think, a bit of the problem. And we won't get to the bottom of this until we know a bit more. What we have to find out is why this has happened and make sure it's put right and hope that this is really a starting glitch.
“People have been let down, let's be honest about it."
Source – Airport International’s London Reporter
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