BAA, which runs Heathrow Terminal 5, was today unable to rule out IT problems as a potential issue behind serious baggage system problems yesterday.
The baggage system problems started yesterday morning and left some passengers unable to check in. The glitch was fixed after 90 minutes, but resulted in the airport being unable to move bags for passengers changing flights at the terminal. A backlog of bags clogged the belts until 6pm.
A spokesperson at the airport operator told Computerworld UK that investigations into the problem were ongoing.
The issue may have been related to a “mechanical” problem on the baggage belts, the spokesperson said. But he also refused to rule out problems with the IT systems that control the belts and the movement of baggage, until investigations are complete.
A spokesperson at BA, the airline with sole use of terminal, redirected all questions about systems to BAA, which it said runs the infrastructure. But BA suppliers built the baggage system, and, ahead of the terminal's opening, the carrier boasted of the "world class" systems, adding that "technology determines the passenger experience at every level".
Terminal 5 had a chaotic opening last year when it was beset with a catalogue of IT problems, causing long delays and the cancellation of 34 flights on the first day alone. MPs called Terminal 5's opening a “national embarrassment”.
MPs on the Transport Select Committee criticised a lack of testing and systems training, which they said led to the problems. The baggage system was designed by Vanderlande Industries and IBM and is operated by Alstec.
In June, three months after the problem, BA chief information officer Paul Coby formally apologised.