Heathrow wait to enter Britain 'unacceptable'
With the Olympics looming, MPs fear delays are damaging airport's reputation among tourists
Sunday 29 April 2012
Damian Green, the Immigration minister, faces questioning over the long queues at Heathrow, as fears grow about the airport's global reputation with London 2012 less than three months away.
MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee will demand to know what caused last week's long delays, with some people arriving from outside the European Union reportedly having to wait up to three hours.
Brian Moore, head of the Border Force, said yesterday that most passengers passed through immigration quickly. "Queues are caused by a number of factors, including incorrect flight manifests or early or late planes which result in bunching," he said. "The important factor is to have staff flexibly deployed in the right numbers at the right times and this is what we always try to do. We are working with BAA to monitor arrival schedules and passenger flows for the rest of the weekend."
He added that the force was "fully prepared" to manage busy periods during the Olympics and would be implementing "well-rehearsed plans". If three- or four-hour queues were "necessary" during the Olympics in light of the risks faced at the time, he told the BBC, then "so be it". "We will not compromise on safety," he said.
He added: "Overwhelmingly, we're doing a good job in balancing getting people through while making sure the border remains secure."
The committee's chairman, Labour's Keith Vaz, said queues of half an hour or longer were not acceptable and that a "real problem" had emerged at Heathrow in the past few months. "I'm not saying we should abandon checks, but it's a choice for the Government – you either look at the way you deal with people when they arrive at Heathrow or you recruit more staff," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "This is not just about the Olympics, this is about what happens before and after; it's about Heathrow as a world-class airport, and it's about our reputation, and we need to make sure we get it sorted."
A spokeswoman for Heathrow's owner, BAA, said yesterday: "Things are moving and we haven't got major queues. The Border Force is putting staff where they are needed."
She added: "Waiting times during peak periods at Heathrow recently have been unacceptable and we have called on the Home Office to address the problem... There's no trade-off between strong border security and a good passenger experience: the Home Office should be delivering both."
The date for Mr Green's appearance before the select committee is to be announced.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Hashima: Among the ruins on Japan's Battleship Island, the place that time forgot
Top 10 cheapest cities to visit, according to TripAdvisor
South Africa's new travel rules: From October, families with under-18s will need to show their birth certificates
Harder, better, faster, longer: The best rollercoasters in the world
Weary? In need of some sun? Relax and unwind with a trip to... Iraqi Kurdistan
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...
£30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...