More flights cancelled at Heathrow


British Airways cancelled 54 more short-haul flights at Heathrow Airport's problem-plagued new Terminal 5 on Monday.

Since the state-of-the-art terminal opened on Thursday, almost 300 flights have been scrapped and at least 28,000 bags unexpectedly separated from their owners. Airport operators have said the problems were triggered by glitches with the terminal's high-tech baggage-handling system.

Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick told the House of Commons that it may take as long as a week to return a backlog of suitcases and bags to their owners.

"We had no reason to believe that the plans for T-5 would not work," Fitzpatrick told lawmakers. "It is a matter of considerable disappointment. It is a blow to national pride."

The chaos has been a major embarrassment for BA and airport operator BAA PLC. They had hoped the $8.6 billion terminal would transform Heathrow's reputation as a grubby and overcrowded transport hub.

BA, the only airline to fly from Terminal 5, said the terminal was working at 87 per cent capacity Monday and service was returning to normal. But it warned there would be more cancellations Tuesday.

BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said the airline would "not rest until our service has been restored to the high standard customers rightly expect."

"A backlog of undelivered bags has built up," he said. "This backlog is not affecting the day-to-day operation of the baggage system, and we are making every effort to reunite delayed bags with their owners."  (AP)