The baggage system went down at Terminal 5, home to British
Airways, last Thursday. The intermittent problems continued until
Sunday, the airport said, resulting in bags needing to be sorted
manually and producing a huge backlog.
Heathrow is the world's third busiest airport, serving 191,200
passengers per day.
"We are on top of the situation," Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye
told BBC Radio, speaking on his first day in the top job. "We are
working very hard, doing our best to get our bags back to
passengers. There are a few thousand that we are going to get on
their way today," he said.
The baggage problem brought back memories of the disastrous opening
of Terminal 5 in 2008 when hundreds of flights were canceled and
thousands of bags were lost.
Terminal 2, a 2.5 billion pound ($4.25 billion) project which was
re-opened last week by Queen Elizabeth, has also suffered minor
problems with its IT systems.
Two airlines - Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines -said they had
delayed their move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 after the airport
started testing the whole baggage system to find faults.
The problems at Heathrow underline the challenges facing
Holland-Kaye, who is having to manage a hub operating at close to
He is in the process of lobbying for permission to build a third
runway at the airport, which is co-owned by Spanish infrastructure
company Ferrovial and other partners, which Holland-Kaye says is
needed to stay ahead of rivals like Paris Charles De Gaulle,
Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt.
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A commission set up by the British government to advise on airport
expansion in the south east of England is due to report in 2015,
with a third runway at Heathrow singled out as one option.
In order to fund the extension, Holland-Kaye told the Financial
Times he wanted to increase landing charges at Heathrow by up to 20
percent, from 20 pounds ($34) per passenger to 24 pounds, to secure
a return on the 17 billion pounds ($29 billion) investment that
would be needed for a new runway.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)
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