Delays to air passengers’ luggage worsened last year, with British Airways (BA) one of the poorest-performing airlines, new figures showed.
An average of 16.6 bags per thousand passengers were delayed on flights operated by major European airlines in 2007, the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) said.
This compared with a figure of 15.7 bags per thousand passengers in 2006.
The worst-performing airline last year was TAP Air Portugal with a delayed bags ratio of 27.8 per 1,000 passengers.
BA, which had been the poorest performer in 2006, was second in the 2007 list with 26.5 bags delayed per 1,000 passengers compared with a figure of 23.0 in 2006.
Other worst-than-average performers last year included KLM (19.7 bags delayed per 1,000 passengers), Alitalia (19.7), Air France (17.6), Luxair (17.2) and the UK’s BMI (17.0).
Air Malta and Turkish Airlines were the best-performing carriers, with a lost bag ratio of only 4.5 per 1,000 passengers in 2007.
The statistics related to members of the Association of European Airlines but not all carriers submitted figures. Among those not giving bag information were Virgin Atlantic Airways and Aer Lingus.
Virgin Atlantic was among those not giving bag figures
The AUC said airlines operating through ‘hub’ airports such as Heathrow fared the worst last year.
AUC chairman Tina Tietjen added: ‘We have spoken to BA and BAA, the airport operator of Heathrow, BA’s main base, about the problems they had with baggage handling in 2007.
‘We have some sympathy with the unique problems they encountered in 2007, particularly the increased levels of hold luggage as a result of the ‘one bag’ rule at UK airports throughout the year.
‘But, whatever the extenuating circumstances, when passengers hand their bag in a check-in they should expect to see their bag at the other end. Complaints to the AUC show that delayed baggage can cause passengers considerable stress, inconvenience and expense.’
BA director of operations Gareth Kirkwood said the one-bag rule and increased security after last summer’s Glasgow airport terrorist attack had not helped the baggage situation.
He went on: ‘We fully apologise to customers who have been affected by delayed baggage in the past year.
‘While our performance at the vast majority of global airports remains good, we continue to experience a wide variety of difficulties at our main home at Heathrow.
‘Although Heathrow Airport continues to suffer from a very stretched infrastructure running at almost double capacity, we also accept that on occasions our own levels of service have not been as high as we would like.’
A BAA spokesman said: ‘Our systems are reliable and we have contingencies in place to mitigate the effect of any problems, should they occur. When Terminal 5 (at Heathrow) opens in less than two months, one of the significant benefits it will bring will be much needed terminal and infrastructure capacity.
‘We are committed to working with the airline community to develop innovative baggage handling solutions for Heathrow and drive performance.’
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