by RAY FLEMING
THE good news is that only 125 pieces of luggage lost in the entrails of Heathrow's Terminal 5 in late-March remain to be returned to their owners; this encouraging statistic was offered by British Airways executives to the House of Commons Transport Committee yesterday during a session when everything else seemed like bad news. For instance, the chief executive of British Airports Authority, Colin Matthews, said that he was “not aware” in advance of Terminal 5's problems and blithely continued that the Authority had “not yet investigated who knew what or when” in advance. Under questioning from MPs he acknowledged that “with the benefit of hindsight there were aspects that were not ready.” Mr Matthews' complacency was matched by his chairman's; Sir Nigel Rudd agreed that “there were a number of problems that might have been foreseen” but said that no one had been fired because “action would not be appropriate when you are in the heat of battle.” Next up before the Committee was Willie “the buck stops with me” Walsh, BA's boss, who said that he believed T5 “was ready to open and that we had prepared sufficiently”. This meeting of the Commons Transport Committee was a most depressing occasion. Three of the most senior managers in British aviation had no defence against accusations of lack of foresight. Mr Matthews even had to admit that 17 lifts in Terminal 5 are still not working.