British Airways is postponing the second phase of its transfer to London Heathrow Terminal 5 in order to avoid putting further pressure on services until it is confident that operational problems have been fully addressed.
The transfer of long-haul services from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 was supposed to have taken place at the end of April, but will be pushed back at least to June.
BA and Heathrow operator BAA struggled to make the terminal run efficiently for nearly two weeks after it opened on 27 March. Normal services have only been in effect since 8 April.
“We are making this decision in the interests of customers,” says BA chief Willie Walsh. “Although Terminal 5 is now working well, we need to have confidence that good service can be maintained when the terminal is handling larger numbers of customers.
“It is only sensible to ensure Terminal 5 is operating consistently at a high standard before the move begins.”
Terminal 5 is already supposed to handle around 390 departures and arrivals per day and the extra long-haul flights will take this figure to over 500.
BA and BAA say they will co-operate to ensure that Terminal 5’s baggage system is operating correctly and that other functions can cope with the additional flights.
“We will work together to iron out any remaining problems, including the baggage system and its operation, and develop a robust timetable for phasing the move of Terminal 4 services into Terminal 5,” the two companies state.
New BAA chief Colin Matthews says: “We regret this postponement and we recognise the impact it has on other airlines. But we believe it is a wise precaution to ensure that passengers can have the maximum confidence once the move does take place.
“BAA fully recognises that the inauguration of Terminal 5 has not been as smooth as we, and BA, would have wished. In the last few days passengers have seen significant improvement and our goal is to complete that process as soon as possible.”
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news source Air Transport Intelligence news