Telegraph: Border guard shortage risks ‘gridlock’ at airports this Easter, airlines warn

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Aviation & Airports (General News), Gatwick, Heathrow
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Britain’s airports will be reduced to ‘gridlock’ this Easter because there are   not enough staff to carry out checks on passports, airlines have warned the   Home Secretary.

Airlines are warning of gridlock at Heathrow this weekend because of a shortage of border guards

Airlines are warning of gridlock at Heathrow this weekend because of a shortage of border guards Photo: Getty Images

Theresa May has been told by 11 airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, that the UK Border Agency does not have the resources to check the passports of everyone coming into Britain.

A separate memo sent by Virgin Atlantic to the home affairs select committee warns that long queues at passport control could leave passengers stranded on planes and put the operation of “entire airports at risk”.

Easter weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for the airports with more than 1.5 million holidaymakers expected to travel overseas. More than 370,000 passengers will leave Heathrow between Good Friday and Easter Monday while Gatwick will handle 200,000.

The Virgin Atlantic memo says: “If arriving passengers are unable to proceed efficiently through the UK border then the entire airport operation will be at risk. Passengers arriving late from passport control to collect their luggage will cause congestion in the baggage hall, delaying delivery of luggage from later flights.

“If there is no space in the immigration hall for any more arrivals then airlines will be forced to keep passengers aboard the aircraft, thus jeopardising the operation of subsequent flights.

Read the memo to Theresa May in full…….

The airlines are urging the Government to employ more border control staff or relax tough restrictions on immigration checks introduced after a scandal at the UK Border Agency last November. Brodie Clark, the head of the agency, resigned after Mrs May said he had relaxed checks without her permission. He was later given £100,000 compensation by the Home Office, with neither side admitting fault.

Full Telegraph Travel story here…..

By , Senior Political Correspondent
03 Apr 2012


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