Terminal 5 chaos costs BA £16 millionT5 expected to return to normal on Saturday

05 April 2008

A girl sat on a luggage belt at an airport

Around 85% of lost bags are traced within a day or two

The Heathrow Terminal 5 opening debacle is expected to cost British Airways about £16m, the airline has announced.

But it added the figure is far less than the cost of earlier fog-caused disruption at Heathrow and that T5 is now running 'very well'.

Also, there was no sign that bookings had dipped, said BA group treasurer and head of investor relations George Stinnes.

A full Saturday service - when slightly fewer flights take off and land than on weekdays - is expected to operate this weekend.

Full service

It will be the first time the terminal has returned to normal operation since its disastrous opening day.

The airline has been forced to cancel scores of flights to take pressure off overloaded baggage handling systems for more than a week.

On Thursday the airline cancelled 34 flights, an improvement on the previous two days when more than 50 services did not fly.

But bosses are now confident that they can deal with the extra traffic and will operate 100% of their planned flights from the terminal at the weekend. 

Baggage handling

Passengers travelling this Saturday will be hoping that there is no repeat of the problems that brought the terminal to a standstill a week ago.

Snaking queues built up rapidly as the high-tech computerised baggage handling system ground to a halt.

On the evening of the opening day the airline was forced to admit that passengers could no longer be accepted for travel with their bags.

Most chose not to abandon their belongings and were forced to find hotel rooms or bed down in the airport for the night.

Baggage handlers are still sorting through 14,000 pieces of luggage lost in the chaos as flights took off with passengers but no bags on board.

Which? advice

Which? Legal Service's Peter McCarthy urges passengers who've suffered delays or cancellations to remember their flight rights.

He said: 'If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you are entitled to assistance. This can include free meals and refreshments depending on how long you are waiting. It also includes free hotel accommodation and transfers to the hotel if a re-routed flight means you have an overnight stay at the airport. 

'You are also allowed two free phone calls, faxes or emails and you may be entitled to financial compensation if your flight is cancelled, depending on the circumstances.'