Heathrow T5 was 'national embarrassment'
The botched opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 generated lot of bad publicity and now even the British MP's have cited errors, inadequate training behind the chaos and called it a national embarrasment. The committee says the debacle reinforces its view that BAA, which owns London's top three airports, should be broken up.
British Airways was forced to shut its baggage check-in desks within hours of opening T5 on March 27 this year after baggage handlers went to the wrong loading bays. The closure caused a big backlog of bags and many top officials lost their bags in the melee. One passenger even offered a free holiday to anyone who finds it.
The chaotic opening of Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 showed "serious failings" by British Airways and airport operator BAA, MPs have said.
The event in March was a source of "national embarrassment", the House of Commons Transport Committee said.
It said the problems, which included cancelled flights and thousands of bags going missing, "could and should" have been avoided with better planning.
The companies have apologised and said the situation had improved since then.
Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman MP, said: "What should have been an occasion of national pride was in fact an occasion of national embarrassment."
When the £4.3bn terminal opened on 27 March, most of the problems were down to "insufficient communication" between British Airways (BA) and BAA, the report found.
It also criticised poor staff-training and system-testing by the airline company.
The 36,584 passengers who turned up on the first day faced long queues and had little idea about what was happening.
"When the baggage system failed, luggage piled up to such an extent that it was transported by road to be sorted off-site.
"According to BA, 23,205 bags required manual sorting before being returned to their owners," the report said.