Author: AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz has had enough of the growing customs and immigration lines at Europe‘s busiest airport.
On Monday, Cruz wrote a letter to the Times of London urging the British government to address the lengthy delays faced by non-European passengers at London‘s Heathrow Airport, claiming that two-hour lines have become the norm.
The British Airways boss also expressed concern over the reports that officials are considering adding fast-track lanes for U.K. passport holders only ahead of Brexit.
“What kind of message does this send, as we try to build links outside the EU?” wrote Cruz. “We need more than U.K.-only lanes to show Britain is open for business, and that includes [U.K. Home Secretary] Sajid Javid taking immediate action to address this border farce once and for all.”
According to the Associated Press, some passengers at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 needed three hours to get through customs at one point last month for a variety of factors, including a lack of staffing and a computer failure.
“We understand the frustration for those who have experienced longer waits and remain fully committed to working with our partners to reduce waiting times as far as is possible,” the Home Office said in a statement. “At the same time, we will not compromise the essential checks we carry out at the border, which keep our country safe.”
Citing passenger data between January and June 2018 amid the airport’s busiest half ever, the Home Office reports that more than 95 percent of all passengers arriving at Heathrow seeking entry to the U.K. have been processed within their target times, which is 25 minutes for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and 45 minutes for everyone else.
However, Cruz claims Heathrow missed its target for non-European travelers more than 8,000 times last year and more than 6,000 times already this year.
A spokeswoman for the airport echoed Cruz’s sentiment. “Heathrow is Britain’s front door and it should be welcoming, as well as secure. It takes far too long for low-risk passengers who have a right to be here to get through the border, which is unacceptable,” she said via the BBC. “We are calling on the home secretary to allow low-risk passengers from non-EU countries such as the U.S. and Canada to use e-gates, in the same way as our EU friends can.”
The Home Office said it is deploying 200 additional staff at Heathrow over the summer.