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London Heathrow airport terminal in fresh turmoil

The 4.3-billion-pound terminal at one of the world's busiest airports opened with much fanfare but became a public relations disaster within hours when the baggage handling system became overwhelmed.

world Updated: Apr 05, 2008 23:09 IST

London Heathrow airport's new Terminal 5 was hit by fresh flights disruption on Saturday when the baggage system suffered a major computer glitch, airports operator BAA said.

"This morning a software problem has arisen in the baggage system at Terminal 5. This is entirely BAA's responsibility," a BAA spokeswoman said.

British Airways, which had hoped to operate a full schedule on Saturday for the first time since the terminal opened on March 27, said it had been forced to cancel 24 short-haul flights.

The 4.3-billion-pound (8.7-billion-dollar) terminal at one of the world's busiest airports opened with much fanfare but became a public relations disaster within hours when the baggage handling system became overwhelmed.

BAA said on Saturday: "We apologise to BA and all passengers who have been affected, and we assure them that our specialist staff are working hard to resolve the problem and keep disruption to BA's operation to a minimum.

"We know what the problem is. We have a potential solution and we are having to carefully consider how and when we apply this to avoid further problems."

British Airways said in a statement to explain the cancellations: "We are now having to manually reconcile bags for each flight which takes considerably more time than using the automated system.

"This has led to flight delays and as a result we have had to make a number of short-haul cancellations.