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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 19:39:42 in EnglandThe family of a man who died, despite seven 999 calls for an ambulance, said he was failed in his "moment of need".
At 19:38:42 in SportNetherlands keeper Michel Vorm believes Louis van Gaal would be the ideal choice as Manchester United manager.
At 19:32:11 in EnglandHeathrow Airport is gearing towards the opening of its new Terminal 2 by unveiling Europe's largest privately funded sculpture.
At 19:27:52 in EnglandThe death of a 10-year-old boy who was hit by a car as he crossed the road outside his house was accidental, an inquest has heard.
At 19:13:07 in PoliticsPrivate parking firms paid more than £6m to the DVLA for the names and addresses of drivers in the past year - an increase of 28%, figures suggest.
At 19:12:17 in EnglandPoppies have been planted as part of a social media campaign to mark the First World War in Jersey.
At 19:11:22 in WalesGriff Rhys Jones has withdrawn from becoming Cardiff University's new chancellor just two weeks after an embarrassing debacle which saw his appointment halted at the last minute.
At 19:04:14 in EnglandA theatre company is hoping to have set a new world record by performing an abridged version of Shakespeare's works at more than 37,000ft (11,278m).
At 18:56:33 in WorldThe Iron Curtain fell 25 years ago, but it seems that nobody told the deer.
At 18:54:46 in EnglandA council is expanding the size of graves to accommodate obese people - and could charge extra for larger people to be buried in them.
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 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Griff Rhys Jones has withdrawn from becoming Cardiff University's new chancellor just two weeks after an embarrassing debacle which saw his appointment halted at the last minute.
The cost of drugs is in the headlines following the decision by NHS watchdog NICE that a new cancer treatment should not be funded.
A foundry has been fined £10,000 for serious safety failings after a worker's legs were crushed by a one-tonne casting mould.
Mexican writer and journalist Elena Poniatowska has received the most important award for literature in the Spanish language, the Cervantes prize.
Portugal's chances of exiting its three-year bailout programme rose after the sale of 10-year government debt fell sharply to a record low 3.57%.
A home security company is creating 230 jobs by expanding its operations in the Republic of Ireland.