Senior MP brands Heathrow queues 'appalling'
The chairman of the Commons Home Affairs described queues at Heathrow yesterday 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 today.
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.”
Vaz’s complaints come after further criticism from passengers last week, as well as from BAA and Labour over the length of queues.
The Evening Standard reported that border chiefs admitted yesterday long immigration delays were “unacceptable” as they announced a new fast-track system at Heathrow to enable passengers from the US and other lower risk countries to pass through immigration more quickly.
Under the trial scheme, passengers arriving from America, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand will be directed into a separate lane from other non-European passengers.
It comes after immigration staff warned that passengers arriving from New York, where rigorous pre-boarding checks are applied, were queuing with arrivals from other destinations with weaker security credentials.
Border chiefs have insisted that all passengers will still face the same level of checks, but said the fast-track system would help prevent low-risk visitors suffering unnecessary and “unacceptable” delays.