British Airways calls on volunteer staff to clear baggage backlog

British Airways (BA) called on the services of volunteer staff as part-time baggage handlers over the weekend, in an effort to clear the backlog of thousands of undelivered bags at the newly-opened Terminal 5.

Willie Walsh, chief executive at BA, said that state-of-the-art baggage system was “generally working better”, amidst ongoing flight cancellations.

“From time to time problems have developed that were not encountered during the extensive trials. These issues are being addressed as they arise by a team of engineers and IT specialists from BAA and BA,” he said.

BA said that 400 volunteer staff arrived at the £4.3bn terminal yesterday, on their day off to try to get through some 15,000 items of luggage that had built up because of a faulty baggage system and lack of staff which has plagued the new terminal since its high profile opening on Thursday.

Walsh said: “A backlog of undelivered bags has built up. This backlog is not affecting the day-to-day operation of the baggage system, and we are making every effort to reunite delayed bags with their owners.

“We have more than 400 volunteers from across the airline supporting this effort.

“This work takes time as delayed bags must undergo enhanced levels of security screening. Much of this process has to be done manually because we have been unable to use the Terminal 5 baggage system to process these bags automatically,” he said.

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