British Airways is continuing to trial all the new systems and processes it will need in place to ensure that Heathrow Terminal 5 hits its opening date of 27 March 2008.

It said today, as it announced first half profits of £556m, that it was making good progress and expected the terminal to open on time and on budget.

The company said that an “exhaustive” six month trial was going as planned and the first major public trials would begin this weekend.

The firm said it remained focused on punctuality and baggage handling times, which would continue to be a challenge until it moved completely to the new terminal as other facilities were “old and overstretched”.

The airline spent £300m in the six months to 30 September on IT, accommodation and ground equipment, fractionally down year on year.

Terminal 5 has cost BA and the British Airports Authority £4.3bn to build and outfit. BA says around £75m of these costs are for technology, while BAA invested at least another £175m in IT systems.

Work has involved 180 IT suppliers and seen 163 IT systems installed.

Nick Gaines, director of business critical systems and IT, said recently that an essential part of the IT challenge in the new terminal was "safeguarding for the future" by ensuring the technology used was appropriate for many years to come, with "space to keep technology options open".