Reply To: BA captain says T5 deicing is a shambles

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To be clear, de-icing BA flights at LHR is BA’s responsibility; it is the responsibility of the ground handling agent here, and they act as their own agent.

The problem is a combination of insufficient capacity and poor process design (both BA issues), compounded by a restrictive planning permission regime (presumably a local government / BAA issue) which does not permit an at-runway de-icing station.

Some first hand observations, many of which are supported elsewhere here:

– Remote deicing is superior to on-stand (as used at LHR), as it both frees up stand space (always at a premium at T5) and reduces the risk of a second trip round the process

– BA deicing capacity is restricted in terms of number of crews (typically look to be 3 or 4 teams working in parallel) and in terms of throughput speed (longhaul deice process takes around 20-25 minutes, due to the ‘lightweight’ kit used). The maths is obvious: BA look to have capacity at T5 of around 10-15 longhaul planes p.h., versus a timetabled schedule several times that.

– A deicing truck apparently has a capital cost IRO $500k each, suggesting that acquiring insufficient capacity to deal with the known timetable is shortsighted of BA. The capacity issue would inevitably and obviously lead to problems of this nature. I cannot imagine that there is a positive business case for this, given the exceptionally high cost of cancelling a day’s flying.

I remain sympathetic to BA under many circumstances and believe they work hard to provide a service out of a very compromised hub. However, in my eyes, this is a significant error which is mostly of their own making.

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