Why is it so unsurprising that the opening of BAA and BA's heavily trailed Heathrow terminal 5 has dissolved into such chaos this evening? Passengers can check-in (if their flight isn't cancelled) but they can't take any luggage - because the state of the art baggage system with 11 miles of conveyor belt, which has been 20 years in the planning, has ground to a halt. Of 18 new passenger lifts just 1 is working this evening (reports Channel 4 news).
The media which trumpeted the opening with such glee is enjoying the disaster just as gleefully. Clearly BA aren't. Chief Executive Willie Walsh was all over the TV when eager anticipation was in the air, now its all gone tits up he's nowhere to be seen. The hapless Director of Operations has been wheeled out in front of the world's press to issue a short apology. Mr walsh is probably on his way to the Chairman's office to discover whether his own fate is best summed in the words of Sir Alan Sugar's catch-phrase "You're fired!"
Why are we so bad at this stuff? I began to fear the worst when I read that all the dry-runs had been carried out with a fraction of the passengers who would go through the airport on opening day. Even now the terminal is only running at a fraction of design capacity.
The whole 4.3 billion pound thing looks like a fiasco. Reading Transport for London's advert about public transport makes no sense either. The Heathrow Express no longer calls at T4, Underground train passengers for T5 and T4 appear to have to change at T123. Can't wait until we host the Olympics in 2012...