BA says it will not sue over airport delays

17-08-2006

British Airways (BA) said yesterday that it will not take legal action against the government for losses incurred by the airline after it was forced to cancel hundreds of flights as a result of increased security measures.

BA said on Tuesday that it was considering seeking compensation from airport operator BAA over the cancellations - imposed on airlines to try and ease congestion at airports following the introduction of tighter security measures in the wake of the alleged terror plot to bomb transatlantic airliners, which was foiled by police last week.

BA, which has cancelled more than 1,000 flights over the past week, said yesterday that it had no intention of suing the government over its losses.

"No consideration has been given or is being given to suing the government," a BA spokeswoman said.

Rival airline Virgin Atlantic, which had suggested that there should be a "healthy debate" with BAA and the government over how airlines could recoup the cost of cancelled flights, has also confirmed that it does not intend to sue the state.

But a spokesman for the airline, owned by entrepreneur Richard Branson, said the company wanted to discuss with the Department of Transport (DfT) how losses could be recovered.

"We prefer to have a cosy chat with the government, the DfT in particular, about how any costs can be clawed back through any possible government financial help but we do not intend to sue," the Virgin Alantic spokesman said, according to comments reported by the Reuters news agency.

BA and Virgin Atlantic, along with low-cost airline Ryanair, had criticised BAA's implementation of new restrictions on hand luggage ordered by the government in the wake of last week's foiled terror plot.

But BAA chief executive Tony Douglas defended the airport operator and insisted that the airline industry had faced a "national security challenge" on an "unprecedented scale" over recent days.

Meanwhile, BA has confirmed that 19 of its shorthaul flights from London's Heathrow airport are expected to be cancelled today, although all flights from Gatwick will depart as scheduled.

The airline said yesterday that it expected to operate a full schedule of flights tomorrow.


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