Heathrow Buried in 15,000 Pieces of Luggage

LONDON -- British Airways drafted in extra staff on Sunday to shift 15,000 items of baggage built up since the disastrous opening of its showcase terminal at London's Heathrow Airport.

With nearly 250 flights canceled since Thursday's opening of the $8.6 billion Terminal 5 and more cancellations due in coming days, the airline could not say when matters would return to normal.

"We have got 400 extra staff in today volunteering to get the bags moved. There are still around 15,000 bags to move," a spokeswoman said. "We are working around the clock to get them back to their owners."

The opening of the terminal has proved a public relations disaster with potential major financial pain for BA, which had hoped the new building would answer criticism prompted by overcrowding at the world's busiest international airport.

It has forced the postponement of an advertising campaign promoting the new terminal due to have been opened next week.

The problems have also triggered a fresh bout of soul-searching among Britons about their failure to deliver large infrastructure projects.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said Sunday that she had held talks with the airline and airport operator BAA, owned by Spain's Ferrovial, and was prepared to step in with unspecified help if it became necessary.