A new survey of Britons published on behalf of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), suggests maximum waiting times at UK airport passport control should be halved.
The survey found that Britons expect UK and EEA passport holders to wait no more than 12 minutes at passport control in airports (25 minutes for non-EEA citizens), compared to the current maximum target of 25 minutes (45 minutes for non-EEA citizens).
The report said that the survey result “goes to the heart of the disconnect between a Border Force operation which purports to be meeting its targets and a passenger experience which does not reflect this”.
The AOA – which represents over 50 airports in the UK – said that the situation is being made worse by the Border Force struggling to meet its own targets, citing the month of July 2017 at Heathrow airport, where there were almost 2,000 occasions during which queues of non-EEA nationals were longer than 45 minutes.
The report also states that queues of two hours or more at Heathrow are now a “once a month” occurrence, and the survey showed that nearly ten percent of Brits who travelled back to the UK in the last year reported waiting for more than half an hour.
Commenting on the report Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the AOA, said:
“As we prepare to leave the EU, getting the message out there that the UK is open for business is vital. The welcome we give to the world at the UK border is a crucial part of that.
“The UK is currently not getting this right: visitors and returning UK residents regularly face long queues.
“Not only do these queues breach Border Force’s own waiting time targets, but it is clear those targets are no longer fit for purpose. Passengers believe that a queue time of only half the current maximum waiting time would be acceptable.
“To deliver the service passengers expect but also deliver the secure but welcoming border that is vital for the success of the Government’s Global Britain ambitions, Border Force must have the resources it needs.
“Airports stand ready to play their part and have, for the last few years, been calling on Government to work with industry to develop a joint long-term plan on how to meet growing passenger numbers and expectations. We hope that the Government will take up that open invitation as part of its planned Aviation Strategy.”