Virgin Airlines Treats Heathrow Like Shoddy Contractor; Witholds Funds

Offbeat, Travel News, UK — By John Curran on January 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm

It’s a common practice for homeowners to withhold the final payment for renovations until the general contractor completes a “punch list” or items that weren’t fixed in the first go-around. Virgin Airlines had to deal with thousands of angry and upset customers at Heathrow Airport during the Christmas shutdown, and it’s doing the same thing to operator BAA.

Basically, an inquiry is being held into why Heathrow Airport took so long to re-open after heavy snowstorms during the Winter holiday season, and Virgin Airlines is holding off on paying its rental fees for that month. While the money is less than $16 million, Virgin CEO Steve Ridgway says he wants answers, according to the Daily Telegraph.

“We want this inquiry to really focus on what happened and when the airport reasonably should have reopened and then we want compensation for all the costs we unnecessarily incurred after that,” he told the news outlet. Even Prime Minister David Cameron had entered the fray to complain about the number of flights grounded at one of Europe’s busiest airports.

It comes at an awkwward time for BAA, the operating authority of the airport, which is being sold by the parent company due to debt levels. The December slowdown alone had cost the company more than $35 million, notes BusinessWeek.

[Image: Binder.donedat via Flickr]

Tags: Airport Strandings, Heathrow Snowpocalypse, Richard Branson's Balloon Fund, Virgin Airlines

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