BAA claims no forewarning of serious Terminal 5 problems

London
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UK airport operator BAA’s chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, has told a Parliamentary committee that there were no indications of any problems which would have led the company to postpone the opening of London Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

Rudd and BAA chief executive Colin Matthews were answering questions from Parliament’s transport select committee over the 27 March switch of British Airways services to the new building.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and thousands of items of luggage misplaced over the following two weeks as BAA battled to address problems with the terminal’s baggage-management system.

Addressing the committee, Rudd said he was “bitterly disappointed” that the transfer had not proceeded smoothly. But he insisted that, while a number of problems “might have been foreseen”, there was none of a size that would have led BAA to stop the opening.

New BAA chief Matthews struggled to satisfy the committee’s inquiries as to whether there had been any discussion over possibly limiting the scale of the initial transfer of operations.

But he told the committee that the Terminal 5 baggage system had been tested over a six-month period and tested 20 times in a “fully-loaded” condition, and added that British Airways and BAA personnel had worked together during the tests “to the maximum extent” possible.

He conceded, however: “The totality of the testing regime did not reflect the reality of the first days’ operations.”

BAA disclosed, just days before Terminal 5 opened, that Matthews would replace former chief Stephen Nelson. Rudd told the committee that the change had been agreed in December last year, because he felt Nelson’s experience in operations was “not sufficient” to run a business the size of BAA.


Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news