This isn’t true. Large aircraft can be de-iced on stand but the problem in T5 is stand congestion (yup, even in a brand new terminal). What they have done is organise a procedure where select aircraft are moved off the stand to allow other aircraft to park. These selected planes are moved to a site at the southern or northern part of T5 and then ‘remote de-iced’ They can position 2 or 3 aircraft into this queue and they are de-iced in turn. It takes 25-35 minutes to de-ice each aircraft.
VK – It is the airline or the handling agents responsibility to de-ice a plane. The de-icing fluid has a ‘hold over time’ This is indefinite if there is no snow. If there is snow it can range from 15-20 minutes depending on the concentration of fluid used. Can you imagine trying to organise the logistics of an operation where it takes 35 minutes to de-ice and the minimum of 15 minutes to taxi out to the runway – if it’s snowing you’ve got 5 minutes to get airborne. Almost impossible.
I agree it’s a shambles. A business decision by the airlines and the BAA was taken that it would be cheaper to accept the ‘once in 10 years storm and associated delays’ than to invest in the equipment needed. If they spent the money on specialised equipment it could sit and rust for 10 years. Looks like a bad choice now.