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Terminal 5 problems hit BA

The disastrous opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 appears to have affected confidence in British Airways as passenger numbers for the airline declined in April.

The passenger load factor – a measure of how full planes were – for April 2008 fell by 5.1% to 71.6% compared to April 2007. Non-premium traffic fell by 8.8%, although there was a 3.4% increase in premium traffic.

Passenger numbers on UK and European routes were down 8.5%, while on routes to the Americas they declined by 7.9%. There was a 6% fall in passenger numbers on flights to Africa and the Middle East, and a 4.2% fall in numbers on flights to the Asia Pacific region.

In a statement BA said: “Market conditions are broadly unchanged with long haul non-premium traffic showing significant weakness. In April some impact was felt, particularly on transfer traffic, from the move to Terminal 5 and the operational problems in the early part of the month”.

The airline goes on to say that operations at Terminal 5 continue to improve. “A normal schedule has operated for more than three weeks and more than 1.4 million passengers have travelled through the terminal. Focus remains on ensuring the stability of the baggage system so that performance levels can be sustained. Operations in Terminals 1 and 4 are working well,” the statement continues.

BA has increased its fuel surcharge on all tickets issued from 2nd May, citing continuing high oil prices. The surcharge for short haul flights increases by £3 to £13 per flight. The increase for long haul flights of less than nine hours is £10 to £63 per flight, and for long haul flights of more than nine hours is £15 to £79 per flight.

Written by: Nick Purdom