British Airways (BA) has requested UK border authorities to address “serious inefficiencies” causing prolonged airport immigration controls delays ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
BA stated that problems in processing passengers after a new electronic gate system was launched last year were producing long waits in queues, sometimes lasting for more than an hour. The delays were made more frustrating by immigration gates being closed during the busy holiday period, said the airline.
“With Brexit just round the corner, more than ever, the UK needs to show that it’s an easy place to travel to,” it stated in a statement.
After a series of militant attacks earlier this year, BA said it supported the interior ministry’s efforts to step up security, but a lot more was 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.”
The Telegraph and other media quoted an interior ministry spokesman after accusing BA of exaggerating.
“This significantly misrepresents the experience of the vast majority of passengers arriving at Heathrow this summer,” the spokesman was quoted.
“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,” he stated.
British Airways, owned by International Consolidated Airlines announced earlier this month that airports in Britain could observe passenger numbers fall by as much as 40 percent unless the government strikes an interim aviation deal with the EU by October next year, according to an industry report seen by Reuters.