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BA sending misplaced T5 baggage to Milan

  • Story Highlights
  • British Airways sending thousands of bags to Italy as it tries to resolve crisis
  • BA faces backlog of at least 19,000 pieces of luggage at Heathrow's new T5
  • The terminal has experienced more than 300 flight cancellations since opening
  • BA says it is faster to send the baggage to Milan by road than by air
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(CNN) -- British Airways has confirmed it is sending thousands of bags to Italy as it tries to resolve the problems suffered at the newly-opened, $8.6 billion Terminal Five at London's Heathrow airport.

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Misplaced luggage at T5 is being sent to Italy to be sorted and returned to owners.

Faced by a backlog of at least 19,000 pieces of luggage, BA is sending bags to a courier firm in Milan where it will be sorted and either driven or flown to owners.

Britain's The Times newspaper reported that while it took at least 24 hours to get to Milan by lorry, a road route could still be quicker than by air because bags do not have to wait to be screened.

The UK Press Association reported that the airline had more than 400 volunteers working to deal with the mountain of baggage which has been separated from its owners following six days of canceled flights.

A BA spokeswoman said: "Delayed bags must undergo enhanced levels of security screening. Much of this process must be done manually rather than using the automated baggage systems.

"Although the majority of delayed bags will be sorted and reflighted at Heathrow, we can reunite larger numbers of bags with their owners more quickly.

"It is quicker for bags with European mainland addresses to go to Milan for sorting and onward transport than waiting for space to appear on flights leaving Heathrow."

She said it was standard practice for BA to use the Milan-based courier firm when coping with a backlog. The same procedure was used last year when baggage problems arose.

The Times also reported that bags belonging to passengers on domestic flights were being driven to Manchester and Scotland to be sorted, screened and returned to their owners.

BA scrapped 54 flights on Monday -- and a reported 300 since T5's much-hyped launch last Thursday, with 28,000 bags having been left behind at the terminal due to problems with the baggage-handling system according to government figures.

It expected 342 flights out of 392 to operate to and from Terminal 5 on Wednesday, 364 flights out of 396 on Thursday and 360 flights out of 394 on Friday.

BA said passengers at T5 could check in with both hand and hold baggage.

Meanwhile, PA reported that the Olympic torch will not go through T5 when it comes to Heathrow on Saturday night.

The torch will be taken through the Royal Suite, a building used by VIPs including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

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A spokeswoman for airport operator BAA said that, to her knowledge, there had never been a plan to take the torch through the troubled terminal.

"This is exactly the same as the Athens torch relay in 2004," she said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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