Minister ‘complacent’ over queuing time at airport

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The extent to which the Border Force failed to meet some immigration-queue targets at Heathrow last month have been revealed.

Figures show that on April 30 there were passport-check queues lasting as long as three hours at the London airport’s Terminal 4.

This was about twice as long as the time under-fire Immigration Minister Damian Green suggested in the House of Commons.

The statistics, released by airport operator BAA, showed that, on average, the Border Force failed to meet its target for getting non-EU passport holders through immigration at all Heathrow terminals last month,.

The Border Force admitted that “at times” queues had been too long, while Labour said Mr Green’s “complacency in Parliament on Monday has now been shown to be completely misplaced”.

Under its targets, the Border Force must get non-EU passport holders through immigration at Heathrow in less than 45 minutes for 95 per cent of the time.

Its target for EU passport holders at Heathrow is less than 25 minutes for 95 per cent of the time.

Border Force monitoring of its targets involves hourly checks, but BAA’s monitoring of the April 2012 Border Force performance involved 15-minute checks.

Of particular concern is the fact that at Terminal 5 only 75.7 per cent of non-EU passport holders were through in less than 45 minutes.

As home to British Airways, T5 is by far the busiest Heathrow terminal in terms of passengers and flights.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, strongly condemned the queues, saying the situation is damaging the UK, particularly in the run-up to the London Olympics.

Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant said: “Damian Green’s complacency in Parliament on Monday has now shown to be completely misplaced.

“People are right to feel angry that thanks to the Government’s ineptitude and cuts of nearly 900 members of staff, queues at Heathrow have been far too long.

“We need more than just words from the Prime Minister.

“The Government must get a grip,” he added.