The boss of Britain’s busiest airport has accused British border forces of ‘complacency’ over long queues for immigration.
Heathrow Managing Director John Holland-Kaye was speaking after reporting a continued drop in passenger numbers as travel restrictions intensified.
The airport handled just 489,000 passengers in April, or just 16,000 per day – compared to an average of 222,000 daily arrivals and departures in 2019.
The drop from April 2019 was 92.1% – even worse than the numbers from January to March this year. It represents 6.2 million passengers.
Only two of Heathrow’s four terminals are currently open.
The numbers are expected to rise sharply from Monday, May 17, when the current ban on international leisure travel will be lifted. But the UK Border Force has warned that arriving travelers face long delays due to ‘non-compliant passengers’ who do not have their Covid documents.
Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Claims by border forces that ‘long immigration lines are inevitable’ are a sign of complacency.
“They are completely avoidable if ministers ensure that all offices are staffed at peak times.”
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps warned on Friday: “We expect longer delays at the airport.”
Paul Lincoln, chief executive of the force, said delays were inevitable due to the need to check.
He told a press conference in Downing Street: “There are currently more border officers dealing with passengers at Heathrow than at any time since the 2012 Olympics.”
Mr Lincoln said that checking a passenger’s documentation takes five to ten minutes, even for the “most compliant passenger.”
The chief executive of Heathrow also demanded that the government publish “a list of countries which should be on the green list for summer holidays so that passengers do not face high prices for last minute bookings” .
Since Portugal was revealed as the only major European country from which quarantine will not be required, some air fares to the Algarve have quadrupled.
The travel industry has bemoaned the limited scope of the Green List, of which the only possible members outside of Portugal are Israel, Iceland and Gibraltar.
Mr Holland-Kaye said: “The government’s green list is welcome, but they need to expand it massively over the next few weeks to include other low-risk markets such as the United States, and remove the need fully vaccinated passengers to take two expensive ones. PCR tests. “
The transport secretary said on Friday: “The only way out of this pandemic is a cautious, cautious and responsible one.”
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This notice was published: 2021-05-11 07:39:49