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Monday, 20 December 2010

Why can planes take off from Canada but not land in London?

Why can planes take off from Canada but not land in London? Given the temperatures are close to -20 C in parts of Canada, you have to wonder at the level of ineptness of the British authorities, the BAA, who don't seem to have the wherewithal to organise safe take off and landing procedures during this period of inclement weather. Hundreds more flights were cancelled on Monday morning as criticism of BAA's response to the recent bad weather intensified.

According to David Millward, Martin Evans and Stephen Adams of The Daily Telegraph, "Anger towards BAA – which operates Heathrow Airport – increased as the Christmas travel plans of half a million air passengers continued to be ruined."

Surely it can't be that hard to de-ice the planes' wings and the runways as countries that deal with perpetually bad weather patterns are used to dealing with such scenarios every winter?

One million passengers were due to pass through Heathrow alone this week and with warnings of further bad weather in the next few days, some travellers whose flights have been cancelled were told they faced waits of up to five days. As passengers were forced to sleep in terminal buildings for a third night, there was mounting criticism of BAA, the airport operator.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, rang Colin Matthews, the chief executive of BAA, to demand answers over why the airport had failed to cope. “I stressed the huge economic importance of Heathrow. I also expressed my hope that they would pull out all the stops to ensure that the planes get moving again. Most people realise that it has not snowed at Heathrow for some time so it is vital everything is done to get the aircraft and passengers moving again.”

BAA, which is controlled by Spain’s Ferrovial, claimed it had spent an extra £6 million on equipment to deal with snow and ice compared with last year. But with pre-tax profits expected to near £1 billion this year, the operator has been accused of failing to invest properly in equipment to cope with the extreme cold.

This reminds me of another well-known institution in Britain, Barclays Bank which, before the Credit Crunch, was making pre-tax profits of between 3-4 billion pounds per quarter. You don't have to be a genius to see that profits as usual have been put over and above the needs and indeed comfort of the customers.

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