BA boss claims Heathrow border queue times 'misleading'
Published: 1st May 2012 10:14:44
Willie Walsh - the boss of British Airways' parent company IAG - has accused the government of "misleading people" over border control queues at London's Heathrow Airport.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Walsh called for "urgent action" to solve what he claims is an ongoing crisis.
Immigration minister Damian Green says UK Border Force figures show the longest waiting time is 90 minutes.
He has promised mobile teams of border staff to cut queues at peak times.
On Monday, Mr Green told the Commons that severe weather conditions had contributed to lengthy immigration queues at Heathrow over the weekend.
But he claimed that non-EU nationals were waiting no longer than an hour and a half to enter the country.
Mr Walsh told the Today programme that a more detailed analysis using data from Heathrow showed some passengers queued for two hours and 31 minutes on Friday 27 April.
"Anybody who has gone through an airport in recent times has experienced the unacceptable poor standards that the border force has provided.
"The government has tried to convince people that we don't have a crisis, the government is misleading people, we have a crisis, it has been there for some time and we need urgent action," he said.
Mr Green defended the Border Force figures - which are taken every hour - saying they are "as accurate as can be", but conceded that waits are "still too long".
Damian Green says airports are taking significant steps to ensure the right channels are open at the right time.
Reiterating what he said in the Commons on Monday, the immigration minister told the BBC that a new central control room is being established at Heathrow to mobilise teams of border staff at terminals where queues may be beginning to build up.
He said a new rostering system will begin in May which will make the system more flexible, and guaranteed that all border control desks would be fully manned during the London Olympic games, which start on 27 July.
Mr Green said on Monday that most people pass through immigration "quickly".
Between January and March, the average waiting time across all UK airports was six minutes for UK and EU citizens, and 25 minutes for non-EU passengers.
Mr Green denied that discussions had taken place between airports owner BAA, the airlines and the government, over whether higher landing fees should be introduced to fund extra border force staff.
The Financial Times claims that the Prime Minister David Cameron would support such a move.
Mr Walsh stated that in the past, the airlines offered to pay for more people, but the move was rejected by the government.
On Monday, shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant said the problem was down to a lack of resources, and that the government was "running out of alibis".
Are you at Heathrow Airport? Are you experiencing queues? Send us your experiences, pictures and video.
Send your pictures and videos to email@example.com or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.
Read the terms and conditions
If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions
At 14:06:33 in EnglandDivers have been told not to enter a former warship scuttled off Cornwall and Devon because it has become "simply too dangerous", site managers say.
At 13:56:38 in WalesA vulnerable teenage boy told he will never walk again after a bridge fall was trying to escape from bullies, say his family.
At 13:55:54 in ScotlandAn armed thief who held up a bookmaker with a knife in West Lothian is being sought by police.
At 13:51:53 in TechnologyThe release of hundreds of intimate images of celebrities has raised questions about the security of the online services used to share many of the snaps.
At 13:49:34 in EnglandA Manchester museum is holding a football shirt "amnesty" to gather "worn-out and ill-fitting" strips for grassroots projects across the world.
At 13:48:43 in SportSt Helens coach Nathan Brown wants to launch a new era at the club by securing the League Leaders' Shield against Warrington on Thursday.
At 13:41:14 in EntertainmentActor Reece Shearsmith takes the lead role in the new four-part ITV drama Chasing Shadows - set in a missing persons field unit that hunts serial killers who prey on the vulnerable.
At 13:39:44 in EnglandA man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a pub landlady who went missing in 1997.
At 13:38:34 in WalesThe building used as the TV drama Hinterland's police station has been given a guide price of £250,000 ahead of its auction later this month.
At 13:36:53 in EnglandFive Royal British Legion drop-in centres are opening in UK cities as the charity aims to become "more accessible" to those who need it.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. BA boss claims Heathrow border queue times 'misleading' [Online] (Updated 1st May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1425702/BA-boss-claims-Heathrow-border-queue-times-misleading [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]
News In Other Categories
St Helens coach Nathan Brown wants to launch a new era at the club by securing the League Leaders' Shield against Warrington on Thursday.
Divers have been told not to enter a former warship scuttled off Cornwall and Devon because it has become "simply too dangerous", site managers say.
Actor Reece Shearsmith takes the lead role in the new four-part ITV drama Chasing Shadows - set in a missing persons field unit that hunts serial killers who prey on the vulnerable.
The release of hundreds of intimate images of celebrities has raised questions about the security of the online services used to share many of the snaps.
More than £250,000 was donated in the last month to groups campaigning in the Scottish independence referendum.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Ireland is to get its first Shannon class boat.