British Airways is ordering 150 new electric powered baggage tugs to help improve its operational performance when it moves to Terminal 5.
The new baggage tugs are part of British Airways' £25 million investment in more than 550 airport vehicles, which will work around the new terminal when it opens on March 27, 2008.
All of the baggage tugs have been built at Linde Material Handling Ltd's Basingstoke factory and will be delivered between October 2007 and March 2008.
Colin Mcwilliam, British Airways' general manager ramp services, said: “Replacing our existing fleet of baggage tugs was a real challenge as we needed to find a model with enough power to navigate up some of the steeper gradients in Terminal 5 while pulling up to three or four tonnes of baggage behind but at the same time keep our vehicle emissions as low as possible.
“The old terminals baggage areas are all flat ground driving so we thought we might have to look at a diesel or hybrid model for Terminal 5 to get the type of power we needed.
“We are delighted that Linde were able to provide the answer with a powerful yet environmentally friendly model which has been modified for our own operational requirements.
“By using an electric powered vehicle it also proves to be far more cost effective as well as reducing the amount of maintenance each unit requires.
“These new tugs will help our baggage teams to move customer's luggage to and from the aircraft in a more efficient and reliable manner.
“The baggage tugs and other new ground equipment will form a key part of our commitment to improve the levels of customer service we offer when we move into Terminal 5.”
Paul Irving, managing director of Linde Material Handling South East, said: “This order is a huge boost for our reputation as a major supplier of ground handling equipment at some of the world's biggest airports.
“The main criteria for us was to ensure that the models had the necessary power but with minimal environmental impact.
“By utilising the latest high performance twin motor drive axle system we were able to meet British Airways' tough brief.”
The 150 strong order comprises of 127 long wheelbase P250s and a further 23 P250s adapted with a carrying platform for larger and more awkward baggage shapes.
The overall number of ground equipment vehicles required for the whole of Terminal 5 will be reduced by just under 40 per cent from 1300 in 2007 to just under 800 in 2010.