Airport chiefs this week condemned border delays of an hour-and-a-half at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) as “unacceptable” amid warnings that they are damaging London’s economy.
BAA, which has invested billions in improving Heathrow, launched a stinging attack on the UK Border Agency for lengthy queues at peak times.
MPs and peers criticised the delays, which are angering business executives as well as leisure travellers arriving at the airport.
Business chiefs demanded tougher targets for immigration officials and stringent checks that they are being met before the Olympics.
BAA blamed the UK’s immigration authorities for the delays. A spokesman said: “We have raised the issue of immigration queues on a number of occasions. Immigration waiting times during peak periods at Heathrow are currently unacceptable.”
Baroness Kramer, the former MP for Richmond Park, said: “Perhaps the UK Border Agency could change its policy so that people with non-UK passports can get through in less than one-and-a-half hours.”
Baroness Valentine, chief executive of business group London First, said it “simply isn’t good enough to have two-hour delays to get into the UK”, adding: “The UK Border Agency should have tougher targets and be required to meet them, particularly ahead of the Olympics.”
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle added: “It is bad for our reputation and does nothing to help us attract business and investment.”
Immigration minister Damian Green insisted that the UK Border Agency had met its target to clear 95 per cent of non-EU passengers within 45 minutes in the first six months of the year.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “It is important to balance this against the need to protect our borders and exercise border control. Higher passenger volumes over the summer inevitably result in slightly longer waiting times.” Source: Evening Standard
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