UK airlines reject BAA plan to take control of scheduling during irregular operations

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK said it is "surprised and dismayed" at a BAA proposal to impose so-called emergency timetables on airlines as a means to handle extreme weather or exceptional situations—such as last December's snow that led to major disruptions at several UK airports including London Heathrow. Under the proposal, these greatly restricted operating timetables could be imposed by the airport operator, a concept the organization categorically rejects.

The idea was floated by BAA's CEO Colin Matthews at last week's hearing of the Transport Select Committee but was shot down by BAR UK, which represents 86 carriers.

“The idea to impose emergency airline timetables appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to take the heat off the airport operator during the inquiry into the December snow crisis and has not even been discussed with the airlines,” said BAR UK CEO Mike Carrivick. “An emergency timetable would not have worked, since the airport operator had simply no idea what would open and when. So why should they be in a position to dictate schedules to individual airlines when they can’t get their own act together?”

In a comment to ATW, Carrivick said he believes it would be “very perverse if the airport operator, responsible for the mismanaged airport closures in December, was arbiter of who could or could not fly,” noting that there were a “huge range of other issues” with the proposal, including the fact that it does not take into account long-haul flights already en route.

Moreover, he pointed out, it would remove the incentive for airports like LHR to reopen quickly while simultaneously imposing lost revenue and added costs onto airlines through EU262 denied boarding regulation. “Do the airlines think such a plan would work? No,” he added. “Instead [of emergency timetables] airline requirements in the first instance are a robust snow plan, one that will be implemented effectively. Let’s keep to the established system of the airlines setting the timetables and the airport operators efficiently managing operations.”

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