Opening of Terminal 5 to passengers marred by cancelled flights and baggage delays

Passengers travelling to and from Heathrow’s newly opened Terminal 5 experienced cancelled flights and baggage delays today.

T5 opened for business this morning at 4 am but by 2 pm British Airways, which has exclusive use of the terminal, was forced to cancel 34 flights. The glitches encountered by BAA’s £4.3bn international gateway to the UK were put down to "teething problems".

Cancelled flights included those to Munich, Frankfurt, Paris and Brussels as well as Glasgow and Aberdeen. Passengers departing from and arriving at the new terminal suffered lengthy delays retrieving their bags with some waiting two hours for their luggage.

There were also complaints from passengers about confusing road signs, problems when paying at a car park, and a broken down escalator. BA blamed the disruptions on problems with "staff familiarisation", which had a knock-on effect on bags and flights.

The terminal is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe, and comprises 16 major interconnecting projects and 140 sub-projects. T5, which has taken over five years to build, will allow for an increase in the number of flights in and out of the airport. Up to 30 million passenger will pass through the terminal every year.

Despite the controversy surrounding its construction it is expected to become one of the best airport facilities in the world. Over 60,000 people have worked a total of 100 million man hours to build T5. BAA’s next major project at Heathrow is the construction of Heathrow East, which will replace Terminal 2 and The Queens Building. Work will start this year and is due to be completed by 2012. Terminals 3 and 4 will be refurbished during this period.