British Airways chief apologizes for Heathrow chaos

March 28th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 28 (DPA) The head of British Airways (BA) apologized Friday to thousands of travellers using the airline’s exclusive new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport as they faced a second day of chaos, with further delays, cancellations and lost luggage. “It was not our finest hour,” Willie Walsh told Britain’s BBC news network. “We clearly disappointed a number of people and we sincerely apologize.”

BA was doing all it could to make the terminal fully functional, he said.

The airline had said earlier through a spokesman that it planned to operate 80 percent of flights Friday despite experiencing massive problems with its baggage-handling system. More than 30 flights were cancelled Thursday.

Of the 20 percent of flights that were cancelled Friday morning, all were domestic or short-haul European flights, the spokesman said. All long-haul flights would operate as scheduled.

Passengers have been advised to check on the Internet ahead of their flights to see if they have been cancelled.

Thousands of travellers were affected by the chaos Thursday when the 4.3-billion-pound ($8.6-billion) sparkling glass-and-steel terminal opened to the public for the first time.

Many were put up in hotels in London overnight, but others roughed it on benches and the floor of the airport.

The airport authority BAA denied all responsibility for the part-failure of the baggage system and resulting chaos, saying in a statement that it had given the airline a fully functioning terminal.

BA said there was a series of problems, including the late arrival of staff owing to delays at the staff car park and security checks.

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