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MPs slam BAA over 'national embarrasment' of T5 opening

The Transport Select Committee of MPs slammed BAA in a report issued today, saying what should have been an occasion of national pride was in fact an occasion of national embarrassment.

The Transport Select Committe said that during the first evidence session representatives from BAA could not provide a satisfactory explanation as to how this national embarrassment had been allowed to unfold.

The chaotic opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 (T5) revealed "serious failings" on the part of British Airways and airport operator BAA and was "a national embarrassment" said the report

The report went on to say the opening which saw flights cancelled, bags going astray and long queues "could, and should, have been avoided through better preparation and more effective joint working".

The Transport Select Committee followed on saying that it reinforced the view of the Competition Commission that BAA is a monopoly that needs to be broken up.

In response to the report, BAA said "We apologise again that the opening of T5 in March failed to live up to passengers' and our expectations. We remain of the view that the close working relationship between BA and BAA in the first few days of the terminal's operation resolved problems quickly and helped to raise standards to the level passengers see today. We have also introduced a number of changes which reflect the lessons learned at T5 and the Committee acknowledges these positive steps and the changes that have brought them about within BAA.

"Terminal 5 has been open for seven months and has been used by more than 11.5 million people. The level of passenger satisfaction at T5 is high, and indeed consistently higher than European counterparts. We regularly exceed performance targets for cleanliness, wayfinding and security queues have been less than five minutes nearly 98% of the time.

"We acknowledge that the Committee did not get all the answers it wanted at the first hearing. We focused on fixing the problems at T5 and not investigating until those problems were resolved once and for all. Had we diverted our resources to investigating rather than solving the problems, we could not have fixed them as quickly as we did."

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