Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BAA Must End Heathrow Chaos

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BAA Must End Heathrow Chaos

Article excerpt

HEATHROWis the commercial and tourist gateway to London: the crisis at the airport, therefore, affects the entire London economy. It is now almost a week since an alleged terrorist threat to transatlantic flights brought the nation's airports to a virtual standstill, yet the situation at Heathrow remains unaccountably and unacceptably chaotic.

As we report elsewhere, British Airways has today cancelled yet more flights - 35 from Heathrow and 11 from Gatwick. There is widespread confusion about hand-luggage restrictions, with the result that four times more luggage is being checked in than usual. The rules are confusing: why, for instance, are passengers leaving Heathrow for the US allowed to purchase liquids within the airport security area but those travelling in the opposite direction forbidden to do so?

Thousands of travellers have still not been reuinited with cases that were stranded at Heathrow. In particular, passengers whose flights left when the most stringent restrictions are in place now find themselves without their car and house keys which they had to pack in hold luggage. Many of them worry, entirely justifiably, that their homes may be at risk, since their keys, along with items bearing their addresses, are now open to theft.

Indeed, the knowledge that baggage from London is likely to contain valuables has led to an increase in baggage theft.

Small wonder then, that the airlines - including Ryanair and British Airways - are now thinking aloud about the possibility of taking BAA, which runs Heathrow and other large airports, to court for its handling of the security clampdown. BAA is now owned by the Spanish construction group, Ferrovial.

It must show that, notwithstanding its foreign ownership, it can - belatedly - resolve the present chaos by flooding Heathrow with additional equipment, resources and staff. London expects no less.

Round the bend

BENDY BUSES are unpopular with passengers, hot in summer, dangerous to cyclists and problematic for their drivers. They are also beloved of fare-dodgers - as is clear from our report today. It is easy to board one of the three entrance doors without validating an Oystercard or purchasing a ticket. …

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