British Airways flights are departing Heathrow’s Terminal 5 without the bags of one in 12 transfer passengers according to the trade union representing baggage handlers, despite claims the terminal is now operating well following its disastrous opening.
Unite senior shop steward at BA Iggy Vaid told MPs yesterday that more than 930 bags miss their onward flights from Terminal 5 each day out of a total of 11,650 daily transfer passengers.
Vaid, who has worked as a baggage handler at the terminal, was testifying before the Commons transport select committee which resumed its hearing into the chaotic opening of Terminal 5 begun two months ago.
The average of 80 per 1,000 misplaced transfer bags at T5 compares with an average of 65-70 across the rest of Heathrow. Unite said bags had to be transferred manually between Terminals 4 and 5.
Unite national secretary Steve Turner blamed the automated handling system at T5 for the problems, saying: “The system is resulting in a significant number of bags not connecting with passengers.”
However, BA blamed the problem on the late arrival of inbound flights and suggested “the majority of misconnected bags are from other carriers”.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow operator BAA who returned before the committee, told MPs: “If an aircraft arrives late, transfer bags do not have a chance of making their connecting flight.”
Matthews appeared to contradict BA’s repeated assertion that a combination of problems caused the delays and cancellations that marked Terminal 5’s opening. He said a failure to remove bags from the computerised baggage system had led to it overflowing.