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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 August 2006, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
BA back to normal 'in 48 hours'
Passengers wait to check in
BA hopes to have services back to normal by Friday
BA says it hopes to have services at Heathrow and Gatwick back to normal by Friday, as it continues to cancel flights from the two airports.

The airline has now cancelled more than 1,100 flights since new security measures came in last Thursday.

Airport operator BAA, which is facing calls from BA for compensation, said it "acutely regretted" the disruption.

Meanwhile, some reports suggest as many as 20,000 passenger bags may have been displaced at Heathrow since Thursday.

BA, which said the bulk of misplaced luggage would have belonged to its passengers, said it hoped to get 5,000 bags to their owners by road or air by Thursday.

The extent to which passenger luggage has been misplaced first emerged on Tuesday as measures allowing people to take one item of hand luggage on flights, subject to size and content restrictions, kicked in at Heathrow and Gatwick.

The ban had been imposed last Thursday after police said they had disrupted a plot to blow up transatlantic flights.

Police investigating the suspected plot are expected to ask later for more time to question the majority of the 24 people being held.

MAX HAND LUGGAGE SIZE
A luggage diagram

Meanwhile, Home Secretary John Reid said that the delays and loss of baggage experienced by passengers were "more acceptable than death".

"The inconvenience is not being imposed for the sake of imposing it, it is being imposed in order to defeat terrorism and protect our public," he said at talks in London with EU interior ministers.

Thirty-five BA flights were cancelled at Heathrow on Wednesday, 11 at Gatwick.

Nineteen short-haul flights out of Heathrow are due to be cancelled on Thursday.

A spokeswoman said: "We are not planning on any Gatwick cancellations tomorrow and we hope that by Friday everything will be back to normal.

"We took the decision to cancel today's flights on Tuesday afternoon as we did not want to overload the system at Heathrow, which is still a bit fragile."

Compensation

BA is considering seeking compensation from BAA for the number of cancelled flights, accusing it of not having had an adequate plan to deal with the security alert.

Similar criticism has been voiced by other airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, but it has stopped short of calling for compensation from BAA.

Virgin, which says its flight schedule is now back to normal, said questions needed to be asked about whether more could have been done to speed up searches at airports.

Most other airlines said they were planning to run a full schedule around the country on Wednesday.

The GMB union, meanwhile, has claimed cases were moved through Gatwick's North Terminal in open cages and trolleys by untrained staff over the weekend, potentially compromising security.

BAA, which is yet to address the specific allegation, has said the arrangements in place were "very tight".

The operator of seven UK airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick, added that maintaining airport safety and security would always be "our number one priority".

BAA has said now is not a time for "finger pointing" over what has been an "unprecedented circumstance".

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