Heathrow ‘totally unprepared’ for major incident

Heathrow ‘totally unprepared’ for major incident

Just href=“http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/baa-report-busiest-april-on-record/” target=“_blank”>hours after celebrating its busiest April ever, London Heathrow Airport has been savagely attacked by MPs.

Following snow chaos, which closed the airport for four days over Christmas 2010, the Transport Select Committee branded the BAA operated property “totally unprepared” for a major incident and called for major reform.

Presenting the findings of its investigations into the incident, the committee argued the government should oversee planning for major incidents at the airport.

The committee added airport operators should be allowed to reclaim the cost of looking after stranded passengers if airlines failed to do so for their own customers.

Committee chairman Louise Ellman said: “It’s clear that Heathrow airport was totally unprepared to recover from any major incident which necessitated its closure and that its owners underinvested in winter resilience equipment.

“Every airport operator must now be pushed to plan properly for bad weather so that people are not left stranded and without even basic supplies in airport terminals for days on end.”

BAA was quick to outlined plans to spend £50 million at Heathrow to avoid a repeat of the chaos.

Spending would include investment in new equipment, plus more staff and training.

It also plans to add new communication systems as well as offering extra passenger care and support.

BAA rejected the transport committee’s accusation that Heathrow was “totally unprepared” to cope with a major incident.

“This is contrary to the findings of the (BAA-commissioned) inquiry by Professor David Begg, which found that BAA had historically ‘demonstrated its ability to respond well to earlier weather events’, and also contrary to the evidence from the airspace closure caused by volcanic ash in 2010,” explained a spokesperson.

Heavy snow last December shut Heathrow, Gatwick and major train lines, and left roads impassable.