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Heathrow terminal has turbulent start

Stephen Beard Mar 28, 2008


Doug Krizner: British Airways has again cancelled dozen of flights today from its new Terminal Five at London’s Heathrow Airport. Stephen Beard has more from London.

Stephen Beard: It took 19 years and $9 billion to plan and build, but on Day One, the new Terminal turned into a disaster.

The computerized baggage system collapsed. Staff turned up late because they couldn’t find the new parking lot. Elevators failed. Thousands of passengers either missed flights, spent hours waiting for their bags or were only allowed to fly if they left their luggage behind.

British Airways described the chaos as “teething trouble” — to the obvious disgust of this customer:

PASSENGER: This is an absolute disgrace. This is not minor problems. This is mass cancellations. Staff that have not got a clue what’s going on. Check-in desks that are closed.

The new Terminal was supposed to transform Heathrow’s reputation for delay and overcrowding, and to coincide with the start this weekend of the so-called Open Skies agreement. More airlines are now expected to fly across the Atlantic carrying tens of thousands of extra American passengers to Europe.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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