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BAA promises to get its Heathrow act together

£50m investment to prevent further snow chaos

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Heathrow operator BAA has promised to spend £50m at the airport to prevent a repetition of last December's anarchy, which saw the "wrong amount of snow" stranding thousands of passengers.

The Heathrow Winter Resilience Enquiry report (PDF/2.1MB here) into the fiasco summarises that the effect of the weather "was not fully anticipated" in the days leading up to the collapse of Heathrow.

It adds that BAA lacked "specialised equipment" for getting aircraft off the stands, that there were "failures in communication and coordination within BAA, and between BAA and airlines", and that crisis management teams weren't mobilised early enough.

The report notes that stranded passengers "experienced distress", and some airlines failed to provide obligatory "compensation and assistance ... in the event of cancellation, long delays and being denied boarding".

Among the recommendations made by the enquiry panel is that Heathrow "should adopt an improved resilience target that the airport never closes as a result of circumstances under its control, except for immediate safety or other emergency threats".

Another is that BAA and airlines should "actively work together to implement improved snow plans, improve command and control processes, and establish approaches to passenger welfare that are focused on the needs of the passenger".

Speaking to the BBC, BAA chief exec Colin Matthews said: "If the entire Heathrow community learns from this report, and works more collaboratively to promote passengers' interests, then this is a pivotal moment for the airport and its reputation." ®

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