Additional and better-trained staff were drafted in as the first phase of British Airways” (BA) staggered long haul move from Terminal 4 to T5 began today (5 June).
An extra 80 check-in staff and 150 baggage handlers switched from T4 to deal with the 30 extra arrivals and departures at eight different locations at the airport - eight daily flights to New York JFK plus daily services to Abuja, Lagos, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town and Phoenix.
Following the mess made of the opening of its new home back in March, BA decided to move these larger services in stages ” the next batch in September, the last in October ” and so far it seems to have paid off.
”All has gone smoothly and fingers crossed ” things got off to good start when the first flight from Lagos arrived 18mins early, its baggage off and waiting within 7mins,” a BA spokesman told ABTN. ”The first departure to JFK left 4mins early ” New York is a big route for us, and we”ve had no problems at all this morning.”
Passenger numbers at T5 have consequently risen from 45,000 to around 53,000, with a 20% increase in the number of bags the airline must deal with ” from 20,000 up to 25,000 ” but so far baggage systems are operating well.
”The other move was of such magnitude [394 flights overnight] - this is a much smaller scale in some respects, though they are bigger aircraft,” said the spokesman. ”We”re taking this carefully and while it”s early days, the signs are encouraging - but there is always the risk of teething problems when bedding in flights.”
A major criticism of the first March move was that staff were not familiar enough with the new terminal before working there, but the spokesman said: ”We have addressed [staff training] to ensure there is no repetition of the problems with the opening of T5.”
” BA”s premium traffic fell 0.9% in May, with overall load factor down 1.5 points compared with 2007 to 71.8%. Passenger numbers on its lucrative transatlantic routes were down 2.5%.
”Long haul premium traffic is slightly ahead of last year,” it said in a statement, but both short haul premium and long haul non-premium traffic ”remain weak.”
It was short haul services which were disrupted in the original botched T5 move which led BA CEO Willie Walsh to turn down his ”700,000 year-end bonus.