David Prosser: Still counting the cost of the winter chill

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The Independent Online

Outlook When Colin Matthews, the boss of BAA, appeared in front of MPs earlier this month to discuss the snow that paralysed Heathrow airport in December, he said the debacle had cost the airports operator around £20m. You can now add £50m to that figure – the sum BAA promised yesterday to invest in Heathrow as it seeks to avoid a repeat of the problem.

Quite right too, but one still can't help feeling sorry for the airlines, which lost far more than BAA through no fault of their own. British Airways alone is thought to have incurred losses of £50m because of what happened at Heathrow in December.

In that sense, it is remarkable that the airlines have not sought legal redress. The threat by Virgin to withhold some of the fees it pays at the airport has been the only hint of a Heathrow user exploring such an option.

BAA should be thankful that the more combative Ryanair does not use this airport – and the regulators should consider whether passing some of the airlines' costs in such situations on to airport operators might concentrate minds.