Last year LHR
handled just under 68 million passengers and their baggage. The facilities those passengers used were designed to handle 50 million passengers and their baggage. On top of this came the security issue with the British government reducing the size and number of allowable carry-on bags. This, of course, resulted in a significant increase in the number of checked items.and further over loaded the already creaking baggage handling systems.
The situation at T4
, where the majority of BA
's long haul flights are based, was particularly dire. The demands being placed on the baggage conveyor belts frequently ran at over two times their design capacity. This resulted in frequent baggage conveyor breakdowns. For example in December last year on three consecutive days flights were restricted by ATC because of fog. On 20 December ATC allowed 942 air traffic movements with 932 on 21 December and just 1,006 on 22 December compared to an average over the whole year of 1,306 movements per day. This caused a high level of chaos. During this period one of the two baggage handling systems in T4
broke down. So a huge backlog of "lost" baggage built up very quickly.
In March 2008 BA
will start to move most (but not all) of its LHR
operations to T5
. This terminal has a design capacity of 30 million passengers and their luggage. In a full year BA
carries just over 30 million passengers on all flights including those not operating into or out of LHR
. As BA
will not be moving all its flights to T5
the actual number of passengers and their baggage that will transit the terminal will be significantly less than 30 million. So the BA
situation will be that instead of using a BAA baggage handling system operating at twice design capacity it will be using a BAA baggage handling system operating at significantly less than design capacity.
Of course the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. But the facts suggest that it is not unreasonable to forecast that from next March onwards the number of BA
passenger bags "lost" should go into rapid decline. Indeed some might predict that since BA
will be operating out of the world's most modern major air terminal that is already undergoing baggage handling trials, BA
's baggage handling performance will, in 2009, be second to none.