T5 opening should have been delayed, admits BA boss

British Airways boss Willie Walsh admitted today in the House of Commons that with hindsight he would not have gone ahead with the opening of Terminal 5 on March 27.

The BA chief executive told the Commons Transport Select Committee: “I regret not postponing it now, but I believed the opening would be successful.”

Walsh admitted he was aware of problems in the run-up to the opening and this had led BA and airport operator BAA to scale back the opening.

“The original plan was to move all operations in one go, ” Walsh told the MPs.

In the event, BA moved only its short-haul flights at the end of March. It has since postponed the switch of long-haul operations from April to June and beyond.

Walsh also admitted staff training had been inadequate. “The training regime was compromised because of delays in completing the building, ” he said.

“We did not provide sufficient familiarisation and I regret we put our people in that position.”

He insisted a combination of factors led to chaos over three days following the opening, with hundreds of flights cancelled, others delayed and more than 23,000 bags misplaced.

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