BA runs full schedule at T5 for first time

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The Independent Online

Better late than never. Twelve days after the disastrous opening of Heath-row's Terminal 5, British Airways managed to operate a full schedule from its new hub for the first time yesterday. The news provided some relief, if only fleeting, to Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, who took the blame for the fiasco in which nearly 500 flights were cancelled and tens of thousands of bags were lost or delayed in the first week and a half of operation.

In an open letter published this week, Balpa, the pilots' union, accused Mr Walsh of "arrogance" and called for his scalp for his handling of the episode. City institutions and investors have been unswayed by the argument, though neither were they impressed by the first unfettered day of operation. BA's shares, already down more than 50 per cent in the last year, dropped 8.7p to close at 231.25p yesterday.

The company, which went to great lengths to publicise the opening of T5 before it went wrong, declined to make a statement to announce that things were running smoothly. Mr Walsh must now try to head off a threatened strike from pilots and find ways to mitigate the carrier's soaring fuel bill.

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