Another computer glitch hits Terminal 5

Click to follow

Just when it looked as though things were finally improving at Heathrow's new Terminal 5, which has been beset by problems since its opening on 27 March, the new baggage reconciliation system failed yesterday, leaving staff with no option but to sort travellers' bags manually.

Technical problems forced airport operator BAA to cancel 24 flights – bound for short-haul destinations including Berlin, Paris and Zurich – on Saturday, resulting in hundreds more delayed and disappointed passengers.

It is thought that a software error was responsible for the failure of the baggage system, which is designed to ensure passengers bags automatically end up on the correct flights. BAA staff at the new terminal – which took six years to build and cost £4.3bn – attempted to reassure travellers.

"We apologise to BA and all passengers who have been affected, and we assure them that our specialist staff are working hard to resolve the problem and keep disruption to BA's operation to a minimum," said a spokesperson for BAA. "We know what the problem is. We have a potential solution and we are having to carefully consider how and when we apply this to avoid further problems."

It is the latest in a long line of glitches that have led to more than 450 flights being cancelled, and more than 20,000 bags piling up in the departure hall. Problems at T5 – described by the Queen as "a gateway to 21st-century Britain" – have already cost BA an estimated £16m.