Did Heathrow Airport passport queues reach 2.5 hours?

  • img Harvey Cawdron
  • POSTED ON 13 Aug 2018

Claims

According to figures, passengers were left queuing for up to 2 and a half hours last month due to delays at the airport's passport control. 

In July, on 30 of the 31 days, the border force failed to hit its target of a 45 minute wait or less for 95% of visitors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

The data was acquired by Virgin Atlantic, and they claimed that passengers are 'frustrated'. 

The government said that it was deploying 200 extra staff at the airport this summer. 

The data suggests that the longest migration queues were on the 6th of July, when travellers from outside the EEA were left waiting for up to 2 hours and 36 minutes.

The chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, Craig Kreeger, said that while it thought safety and security is a priority, other countries are managing their borders much better then Britain are. He said that 'only the Border Force' can do something to 'resolve these unacceptable queue times'.

Kreeger added that 'At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression for every visitor every time'. 

Citizens of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland can use the electronic gates at the airport to get through passport control. However, those from other areas of the world must have their passports checked by a security official. 

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's chief executive, has previously said that the Home Office should let people from 'low-risk countries such as the US', to be able to use the electronic gates. He had previously deemed a lack of staffing responsible for the issues.

Last week,  Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, wrote a letter to the Times calling for the government to sort out Heathrow's 'border farce'. He claimed that 'two-hour queues are fast becoming the norm' and that so far this year, Heathrow has missed its target for non-EEA arrivals 6,000 times. 

BBC reporter Jenny Kumah said that the Home Office explained these statistics, saying that in July they were worsened by 'large numbers of vulnerable adults and children arriving', as well as numerous computer errors. 

A Home Office spokesman said 'The vast majority of people who arrive at Heathrow get through the border within our service standards. But we understand the frustration for those who have experienced longer waits and remain fully committed to working with our partners to reduce waiting times as far as is possible.'

They added that 'At the same time, we will not compromise the essential checks we carry out at the border which keep our country safe. We are making sure Border Force has the resources it needs and are deploying 200 additional staff at Heathrow over the summer.'