EU passport holders at Heathrow should not have to wait more than 25 minutes for 95% of the time - and that's official!
11 July 2012
The message from UK airport operator BAA is that immigration queues at London Heathrow Airport were "unacceptably" long. This was after recent reports that waiting times had reached 90 minutes and that some passengers faced waits of two-and-a-half hours to get through immigration.
The chairman of the Commons Home Affairs described queues at Heathrow as "appalling".
Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz visited Terminal 4 at 7am on Monday to assess the scale of the problem before his committee questions immigration minister Damien Green at Westminster.
He said he had seen passengers waiting for more than an hour as more than half of the immigration desks at the terminal remained unstaffed.
"I was appalled by the length of queues in the immigration hall this morning," he reportedly said. "It is now two months since the immigration minister promised additional resources and better management.
"The worst aspect was that half of the immigration desks were simply not opened even though the Border Force had prior knowledge of all flight arrivals. This creates additional security pressures with luggage piling up in the baggage hall."
This brings into question the ability of the Home Office to cope with thousands of athletes taking flights to London Heathrow for the 2012 Olympic games.
BAA conceded that the Home Office have arranged for all Border Force desks at Heathrow to be manned during the peak Olympics arrival times but said that the Home Office should be "delivering a good experience for regular passengers as well as Olympic visitors".
If targets are met, the Border Force would get non-EU passport holders through immigration at Heathrow in less than 45 minutes for 95% of the time.
The target for EU passport holders at Heathrow is less than 25 minutes for 95% of the time.
According to the Daily Telegraph there were half-mile queues at Heathrow's Terminal 4 recently, while pictures in the paper showed empty immigration desks.
A BAA spokesman said: "Immigration is a matter for the Home Office. The Home Office has said that from July 15 all Border Force desks at Heathrow will be open during peak arrival periods."
A Border Force spokeswoman said: "We are fully prepared for the busy Olympic period and will be implementing our well-rehearsed plans.
"This includes staffing all immigration desks at key ports whenever necessary during the peak Olympic and Paralympic arrivals period."
Do you think that waiting times of 25 minutes for EU passport-holders and 45 for others is "acceptable"? Leave a comment below:Show Images