"Airlines protest over BAA's terminal 5 'stitch-up'
Friday November 7, 2003
BAA was accused by leading airlines yesterday of delivering a "classic stitch-up" by spending an extra £100m to allow British Airways to move into Heathrow's fifth terminal early.
The airport operator announced it was pumping additional cash into the new £3.9bn facility at Britain's biggest airport so that BA
can shift all its flights during 2008, rather than phasing the move over four years. Rival airlines rounded on BAA with complaints of preferential treatment for the national flag carrier. They say BA
will be by far the biggest beneficiary of the facility, which is being funded by increases in charges to all carriers flying from Heathrow.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: "We are very, very concerned by this.
"It's all too clear that BA
will benefit from terminal five to a greater extent and more quickly because of this investment.
"It's your classic stitch-up. BA
will have a shiny new terminal with state of the art facilities. We will want to see equivalent benefits for the other airlines staying in the central terminal area."
BAA's chief executive, Mike Clasper, said money to speed up the move would be found by cutting investment on extra baggage, check-in and connections facilities at existing terminals. He said these would not be needed because BA
's early departure would ease overcrowding.
But the second largest carrier from Heathrow, BMI
British Midland, demanded "clarification" of the cutbacks. A BMI
spokesman said: "There could be concern if the facilities being offered to BMI
and the Star Alliance are not of equal standard to those provided to BA
The row erupted as BAA delivered an upbeat progress report on the terminal, which is 28% complete and ahead of schedule.
and Qantas, along with a handful of partners from their OneWorld alliance, will be the only airlines allowed to use the new building.
The airport operator struck an optimistic note regarding recovery in the aviation industry, despite revealing a 4.3% fall in half-year pre-tax profits to £312m.
Mr Clasper said: "The world has recovered from Sars and the war in Iraq.
"You do get a sense that things are picking up here and there for the airlines."
Profits increased by 2% during the three months to September, reversing a 6.3% fall in preceding quarter. Half-year passenger numbers at BAA's eight airports in the UK rose by 2.5% to 72m. "