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Pilots blame BA for chaos at Terminal 5

  • Story Highlights
  • Pilots demand a shake-up in British Airways' management due to chaos at T5
  • BA still canceling flights due to problems at Heathrow's new $8.6 billion terminal
  • Pilots' association issues open letter accusing BA of incompetence
  • BALPA says warning signs had been there long before new terminal opened


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(CNN) -- The continuing chaos at Heathrow's Terminal 5 has forced pilots to demand a shake-up in British Airways' management.

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

The airline canceled a further 47 flights on Monday after 126 scheduled journeys did not eventuate on Sunday due to heavy snow and the baggage handling problems that have dogged the $8.6 billion terminal since it opened on March 26.

Before the weekend, more than 20,000 bags had been separated from passengers, and about 430 flights canceled, as the British government labeled the debacle as a blow to national pride.

The British Airline Pilots' Association has now issued an open letter accusing BA of incompetence in dealing with the situation, The UK Press Association reported Monday.

BALPA, which represents 3,000 BA pilots, claimed that its staff's careers would be affected due to the negative publicity generated by the situation at the terminal.

"Failings on the opening days of T5 are symptomatic of BA's loss of focus in delivering a sound operation," BALPA general secretary Jim McAuslan said.

"The airline can and should make Britain proud, but a fundamental change of attitude is required from the very highest levels of BA management."

McAuslan said BALPA had long had concerns about BA's performance, especially with punctuality, baggage delivery and product quality, PA reported.

"Get that right and the customers will keep coming back in today's highly competitive aviation market," he said.

"It is with great sorrow and acute embarrassment that BA pilots have witnessed the unhappy, distressing shambles that the opening of T5 has become.

"BA pilots have reacted in the right way by once again going the extra mile to solve problems and extend their working duties to maximum legal limits in order to minimize the suffering of our customers and protect the company they love and the uniform they wear."

McAuslan said there had been warning signs long before the terminal opened, including management's reluctance to answer questions, reduced quality standards and lost baggage levels worsening.

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"Banks, institutional investors and analysts need to wake up to the fact that there is something very wrong at the heart of this company that is making our once great brand a laughing stock," he said.

McAuslan said pilots have an impending industrial dispute with BA in a row over the airline's plans to open a subsidiary services between mainland Europe and the United States, PA reported. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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