Airport queues 'depend on wind'

Long waits for passengers at the UK's airports will depend on the wind, the Immigration Minister said today. Damian Green told bringing in risk-based security checks would not be a panacea to reducing queues.

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Airlines and airports back risk-based checks

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and airports operator BAA have told MPs they backed risk-based checks, but insisted security was paramount.

Corneel Koster, director of operations, safety and security at Virgin Atlantic, said: "We have a view that risk-based security can work. We think it's a direction that the UK Border Force can move in.

"It allows the Border Force to allocate resources to make sure security is as robust as possible and also efficient."

He also blamed the worsening queues on working patterns, staff cutbacks, a move away from the risk-based security regime and an increase in passenger numbers.

More staff at Heathrow to combat queues

Immigration Minister Damian Green has called for better information on arriving passengers from airlines, saying three times as many passengers arrived at Heathrow yesterday morning than were expected.

On Friday, the Border Force was told to expect some 2,500 passengers between 6am and 9am yesterday. This rose to 5,000 at six hours' notice, but in reality some 7,500 passengers turned up, Mr Green said.

Passengers have been experiencing long queues at Heathrow Airport.
Passengers have been experiencing long queues at Heathrow Airport.

The opening of a central control room at Heathrow later this month, along with the introduction of 16 mobile teams of 10 people, will make a significant difference, he said.

Mr Green also announced that 70 new staff being recruited to work at Heathrow Terminal 2 when it reopens would start training immediately after the Olympics to ensure the Border Force retained its flexibility after the Games.

Damian Green: 'Waits at airports will depend on the wind'

Long waits for passengers at the UK's airports will depend on the wind, the Immigration Minister said today. Damian Green said bringing in risk-based security checks would not be a panacea to reducing queues.

Immigration Minister Damian Green
Immigration Minister Damian Green

Passengers travelling to London's Heathrow Airport from New York may well have longer waits to clear security if their flight arrives 10 minutes after one from Lagos, Nigeria, than if it arrives 10 minutes earlier.

"That will depend on the wind, over which, with the best will in the world, airlines and the Border Force don't have the control," he said.

Immigration Minister to be quizzed over three hour queues

Passenger wait at immigration queues at Heathrow
Passenger wait at immigration queues at Heathrow Credit: PA

Keith Vaz will chair the committee responsible for finding out why queue problems continue to persist at Heathrow Airport.

With the London Olympics just three months away, there are fears our border agencies will be unable to cope.

Vaz has insisted thatthe problem needs to be addressed urgently, irrespective of the Olympics.

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