British Airways confirmed on Wednesday that it was sending thousands of bags to Milan to better cope with a massive backlog of luggage caused by turmoil at its newly-opened terminal at London Heathrow.
According to the airline, some 19,000 bags are being held because of troubles at Terminal Five, which has been blighted by logistical struggles ever since it opened to much fanfare on Thursday, with problems compounded by a major computer glitch in the luggage handling system.
"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," a BA spokesman said.
"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."
The airline said that though it had more than 400 volunteers working to deal with the backlog, some bags were being sent to Milan where they would be sorted and dispatched to their owners.
It said that sending luggage to Milan for sorting was standard practice, and was used last year when a similar backlog of baggage built up.
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled out of Terminal Five because of the chaos, including 50 that were axed on Tuesday. BA says, however, that it will operate at 92 per cent capacity on Thursday.
Business leaders have called the situation a public relations disaster for BA, London and Britain.
T5, which was unveiled earlier this month by Queen Elizabeth II, was designed to handle 30 million passengers a year and alleviate notorious overcrowding at the world's busiest international air hub. (AFP)
Heathrow sending bags to Milan to cope with backlog