1. ITV Report

Heathrow passengers face 'unacceptable delays'

Non-EU passengers face hours of queuing to enter the country. Photo: ITV News

The UK Border Force is consistently failing to meet immigration-queue targets, according to figures released by airport operator BAA.

Figures show that all Heathrow terminals missed their targets for processing non-European passport holders almost every day in April.

The target is to process non-European passport holders within 45 minutes 95% of the time, and to process European passport holders within 25 minutes.

The Border Force did not manage to meet their target for non-European passport holders in any of the Terminals in Heathrow.

  • Terminal 1 missed the target 12 days out of 30 days in April
  • Terminal 3 missed the target 21 days
  • Terminal 4 missed the target 21 days
  • Terminal 5 missed the target 23 days

Passengers on April 30 who flew into Terminal 4 faced passport queues of almost three hours.

Passengers who arrived in Terminal 5 on April 10 had to queue for at least an hour on average, whilst passengers carrying non-EU passports who arrived on April 17 faced queues of two hours and 35 minutes.

On April 30, Immigration Minister Damian Green, told parliament the average queue was an hour and half.

Despite these long queues on some days, the targets in April were, on average, met for EU passport holders.

Border Force performance graph from BBA at Heathrow Credit: BAA

The UK Border Force say that the figures released by airport operator BAA (above) do not show they have "breached" their targets:

Border Force and BAA data shows that queuing time targets for UK and EEA citizens were not breached during April. But we know at times queues have been too long.

That is why we have announced an extra 80 staff for peak times at Heathrow. And it's why we've also engaged an extra 480 people to cover the Olympic period. In the longer term our management and rostering changes will address the issue of queues.

– Border Force spokesman

The PCS Union says the cuts are to blame and that " ministers can't cut staff and expect to run the same service."

Tourist agency Visit Britain say they are worried by the "negative first impression" the long queues give the country.

Senior Political Correspondent Chris Ship reports.

The British Air Transport Association (Bata) has labelled the delays as "completely unacceptable" and met with the Home Secretary Theresa May and Immigration Minister Damian Green today. Simon Buck is the Chief Executive of Bata.

Business lobby group London First says the queues are bad for the whole of the UK economy as they effectively say that the UK is 'closed for business.' John Dickie is the senior policy advisor:

Tonight Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced a series of measures to tackle the"unacceptably long" queues faced by passengers travelling into Heathrow on non-EU passports.

He told ITV News Senior Political Correspondent Chris Ship that changes to the current system will be made immediately.