British Airways gave a joint statement with airport operator BAA on Friday saying that it would be delaying the introduction of long haul flights to Heathrow Terminal 5 until June.

The statement said that while flights had been operating as normal from Terminal 5 since Tuesday, BAA and British Airways both wanted customers to be confident of high service standards when long haul flights began.

Both companies pledged to iron out remaining problems at Terminal 5, specifically mentioning the baggage system, and said that they would develop a robust timescale to move Terminal 4 services to Terminal 5.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, said, We are making this decision in the interests of customers. Though Terminal Five is now working well, we need to have confidence that good service can be maintained when the terminal is handling larger numbers of customers.

It is only sensible to ensure that Terminal 5 is operating consistently at a high standard before the move begins.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, said, BAA regrets this postponement, and we recognize the impact it has on other airlines, but we believe it is a wise precaution to ensure that passengers can have the maximum confidence once the move does take place.

We will be working very closely with BA in the intervening period to ensure that result, as well as working with the other airlines to mitigate as much as possible the knock-on effects.

BAA fully recognizes that the inauguration of Terminal Five has not been as smooth as we and BA would have wished. In the last few days passengers have seen significant improvement and our goal is to complete that process as soon as possible before continuing the next phase of transforming the rest of the airport.