UK aviation minister Lord Callanan has urged Spain, Portugal and Italy to tackle passport control queues amid fears that delays seen this week could escalate.

He said EU countries had a duty to let British tourists “get on with their holidays” after reports of waiting times of up to four hours this week.

The EU has insisted on stricter identity border checks for non-Schengen countries like Britain following the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris.

However, many airports have not out the additional resources in place to cope with the more lengthy checks that are being carried out.

There are concerns the situation will only get worse this weekend as many summer sun European airports prepare for their busiest period of the year.

In a statement Lord Callanan said: “I will be speaking to my counterparts in Portugal, Spain and Italy to urge them to do all they can to reduce queues and allow travellers to get on with their holidays.

“Clearly it is right that other EU countries have appropriate border controls, but it is also in everyone’s interests that tourists are able to start their holidays and spend money across Europe.”

Sir Julian King, European Commissioner for security, said: “This system of checks was proposed in 2015. Member states agreed to it in 2016.

“We are now more than midway through 2017. National border agencies and airport authorities have had lots of time to prepare and to put in place the necessary arrangements and staff.”

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said airlines were furious about the delays after revealing that almost a quarter of its flights had run late over a 24-hour period this week.

Under the new security regime Brits are facing long queues at airports both entering and leaving EU countries.

“If people are leaving your country, what is the problem? You’re at the peak of the travel period, the UK school holidays. Why you’re going through outbound passport control in any European country is a mystery to me.”

Tory MP Huw Merriman said: “It’s a ludicrous state of affairs when fellow EU members cannot distinguish the UK from other non-Schengen countries.

“We are an EU member, and an island, after all, and have not given free access to the migrants which mainland EU has. I would have thought we would be welcomed as the safest of nations.”