UK carrier BMI and parent company Lufthansa expect to be compensated by airports operator BAA for the losses incurred as a result of runway closures at London Heathrow during last month's severe winter weather.

A Lufthansa spokesman says that while the carrier is "not asking for anything" in particular, "we expect the airport operator to contact us and offer compensation".

He does not put a figure on how much compensation Lufthansa is expecting because passengers are still making claims, but points out that it is "up to BAA" to approach the airlines affected by the disruption and make an offer of compensation.

"BAA should come to the airlines and say what they think they can offer," he says, adding that "it is obvious there was not enough manpower" to enable Heathrow to operate effectively in the snow that fell in December.

BMI says it has "assessed the costs incurred as a result of the snow disruption at London Heathrow", and "will now enter into discussions about compensation".

A BAA spokesman says the airports operator "will continue to talk in private with airlines about improving our snow resilience", but declines to comment on whether any compensation will be offered.

In a comment piece published today in UK newspaper The Times, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews apologises for the disruption caused by the snow at Heathrow on 18 December and says that BAA is "urgently reviewing the airport's preparedness for difficult weather should it occur in the remaining months of this winter".

Matthews insists that Heathrow "did not run out of de-icer" and that funding for snow-clearing equipment "was not restricted by either BAA or its shareholders".

"Faced with more snow than we have seen in decades, the snow plan we agreed with airlines earlier this year was found to be insufficient," says Matthews.

Responding to Virgin Atlantic's announcement yesterday that it plans to withhold landing fees until an inquiry into the disruption is completed in March, Matthews says: "Leaving aside the fact that Virgin has no legal basis for taking this action, I know that passengers' interests are better served by good relations and partnership between airports and airlines, and our inquiry will expose precisely what happened."

BAA will tomorrow publish a financial statement detailing the impact of the disruption.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news