Leading article: Lost luggage and terminal decline

Share
Related Topics

When any large building project is completed on time and on budget in modern Britain, it is hard not to cheer – even when that project is something of such dubious merit as a new terminal at Heathrow Airport.

Yet there was noticeably little cheer around yesterday as Terminal 5 opened its doors to passengers for the first time. Travellers found their appreciation of the splendid view from Richard Rogers' glass and steel construction marred by cancelled flights, parking problems, staff shortages and non-functioning escalators. Most embarrassingly, the "sophisticated" luggage processing system failed. This was not the check-in paradise that passengers had been promised.

And further problems lie in wait. The layout of the terminal, which allows domestic and international passengers to mingle in the same area, will create a security headache. Heathrow's operator, BAA, was planning to fingerprint domestic passengers to get around this problem, but was forced to drop this scheme last week after the Information Commissioner found this an unwarranted invasion of privacy. The question of what method will be used to keep track of passengers is still being negotiated.

Despite yesterday's chaos, there was still a fair amount of shopping done.

All BAA's airports are replete with shops, but Terminal 5, with its 23,000 square metres of retail space feels more like a shopping mall than a transport hub.

It is no mystery as to why. Ferrovial, the Spanish firm that owns BAA, took on a huge and expensive amount of debt to buy the operator two years ago. Ferrovial needs to meet its payments – and cramming shops into its terminal buildings is one of the simplest ways to crank up income. Raising the landing fees charged to airlines is another. The excuse for the latest hike is higher security costs, but it is actually to help Ferrovial finance its debts. And that is also why BAA is pushing so hard for a third runway at Heathrow. An extra runway means more flights. More flights means more fees and more shopping passengers. Yet it also means more damaging carbon emissions.

Despite this, it is in our interests that Terminal 5 improves on yesterday's awful performance. For good or ill, Heathrow is a gateway to Britain and those gateways should be efficient and welcoming.

But the point of the demonstrators who congregated at the new terminal yesterday was well made. This must not be the first step on the road to a new runway, or an increase in flights.

Terminal 5 should be the final destination as far as UK aviation growth is concerned.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss