Feeds

MPs decry Heathrow T5 fiasco

'National embarrassment', says Transport Committee

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The House of Commons Transport Committee has described the anarchic opening of Heathrow's Terminal Five as a "national embarrassment" which showed "serious failings on the part of both BAA and British Airways".

The committee's report into the 27 March fiasco, which saw 36,584 passengers affected by a series of shortcomings in the "baggage system, car parking, security searches and aspects of the building itself" and 23,205 bags reduced to manual sorting, concludes that the blame lay mostly in "insufficient communication" between BAA and BA.

The scale of the collapse of the baggage handling system has now become the stuff of epic fail lore. The report notes that it was "designed by Vanderlande Industries of the Netherlands in conjunction with IBM technology and Alstec, which operates the system", and contains "no unproven technology" although "the scale of the system at T5 is greater than anywhere else in the world".

While the committee concedes that other airport terminals worldwide have suffered similar opening day blues, it notes that two weeks before the T5 inauguration, BAA's strategy director Mike Forster declared: "We have a world-class baggage system that is going to work perfectly on day one."

BAA and BA were on 7 May hauled before MPs to explain what had gone wrong, but the committee says that during this first evidence session "representatives from BAA were unhelpful and ill-prepared" and "provided us with no satisfactory explanation as to how this national embarrassment had been allowed to unfold".

The committee concluded that "the programme of training for many workers had been inadequate" and that while pre-opening proving trials "may have succeeded in identifying improvements and enabling members of the public to experience the new terminal... they failed in the ultimate objective of getting the system to a point where it worked well enough to cope with the opening successfully".

BA conceded that its staff training "had not been sufficiently thorough" and admitted it "should not have absorbed the continuing building delays by compromising the time needed to complete the full testing and familiarisation process as planned".

BAA said of the baggage-handling disaster: "It may have been that the baggage we were testing was too uniform. Maybe the reality of the baggage that people put into the system was more diverse than our tests represented."

The report concludes: "The opening of Terminal 5 revealed serious failings on the part of both BAA and British Airways. Like both organisations, we acknowledge the inevitability of 'teething problems' but deeply regret that so many were allowed to bring the operation of Heathrow's newest terminal to a halt." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.