British Airways has called on the UK border authorities to address a ‘serious inefficiency’ which is causing long delays at the immigration posts at the airports.
BA said that after a new electronic gate system was introduced last year, difficulties with the new systems have caused long waits, with passengers sometimes having to wait more than a hour at the immigration post. During the busy holiday period, waits were made more frustrating by immigration gates being closed.
In a submission to the Home Office, the airline raised concerns that families returning from holidays are forced to face long queues to pass through immigration. BA representatives said that “with Brexit just round the corner, more than ever, the UK needs to show that it’s an easy place to travel to.”
BA says it supported the interior ministry’s efforts to step up security, after a series of terrorist attacks earlier this year, but that more needed to be done. “It is a dreadful welcome for visitors to the UK to be faced with a packed immigration hall and the prospect of a frustrating delay to the start of their holiday or business trip. It adds insult to injury when you’re stuck in a queue but can see numerous gates which just aren’t being used.”
An interior ministry spokesman quoted by The Telegraph and other media outlets accused BA of exaggerating. He was quoted saying that “This significantly misrepresents the experience of the vast majority of passengers arriving at Heathrow this summer; more than 99 percent of British and European passengers arriving at Heathrow are dealt with within 25 minutes. For passengers from outside the European Economic Area, 87 percent of passengers have been dealt with within 45 minutes.”
Earlier this month, BA said Britain’s airports could see passenger numbers plunge by as much as 40 percent unless the government decides to strike aviation deal with the EU by October 2018, according to an industry report.
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